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Bishop of Saint Agatha, and Founder of the Congregation of the Most 
Holy Redeemer. 




Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

Volume XII. 





tntcnarj; IStrition. 



18 vols., Price, per vol., net, $1.25. 

Each book is complete in itself, and any volume will 6 
gold separtite1y 

Volume I. 



* IV. 



" VII. 

PREPARATION FOR DEATH ; or, Considerations on the Eter 
nal Truths. Maxims of Eternity Rule of Life. 
Pious Reflections. Spiritual Treatises. 

Prayer. Mental Prayer. The Exercises of a Retreat. 
Choice of a State of Life, and the Vocation to the 
Religious State and to the Priesthood. 

CHRIST ; or, The Mysteries of Faith. 


THE HOLY EUCHARIST. The Sacrifice, the Sacrament, 
and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. Practice of Love 
of Jesus Christ. Novena to the Holy Ghost. 
VIII. GLORIES OF MART: i. Explanation of the Salve 
Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen. Discourses on the Feasts 
of Mary. 2. Her Dolors. Her Virtues. Practices. 
Examples. Answers to Critics. Devotion to the Holy 
Angels. Devotion to St. Joseph. Novena to St. Teresa. 
Novena for the Repose of the Souls in Purgatory. 

VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS ; or, the Lives of the Most 
Celebrated Martyrs of the Church. 

sixteen Chapters. 2. The last eight Chapters. Appendix 
and various small Works. Spiritual Letters. 

collection of Material for Ecclesiastical Retreats. Rule 
of Life and Spiritual Rules. 

THE HOLY MASS : Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ceremonies 
of the Mass. Preparation and Thanksgiving. The Mass 
and the Office that are hurriedly said. 

THE DIVINE OFFICE : Explanation of the Psalms and 



VARIOUS SMALLER WORKS : Discourses on Calamities. 
Reflections useful for Bishops. Seminaries. Ordi 
nances. Letters. 

Instructions about the Religious State. Letters and 
Circulars. Lives of two Fathers and of a Lay-brother. 
General Alphabetical Index. 

Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. 


" XII. 
" XIII. 

" XIV. 

" XV. 

11 XVI. 
" XVII. 


The Exercises of the Missions. Various 
Instructions on the Commandments and 







Doctor of the Church. 



Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 


Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 





By virtue of the authority granted me by the Most Rev. Nicholas 
Mauron, Superior-General of the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer, I hereby sanction the publication of the work entitled 
"" DIGNITY AND DUTIES OF THE PRIEST," etc., which is Volume XII. 
of the new and complete edition in English of the works of St. 
Alphonsus de Liguori, called " The Centenary Edition." 

Sup. Prov. Baltimore)! sis. 

BALTIMORE, MD., August 15, 1888. 

Copyright, 1888, by Elias Frederick Schauer. 


WE begin the series of works composed especially for 
the clergy. 1 The work that comes first appeared in 1760 
after the True Spouse of Jesus Christ, when the author 
had attained the age of sixty-four. It is the fruit of re 
searches and of studies that he had made during nearly 
forty years, either for the purpose of regulating his own 
conduct, or of directing ecclesiastical retreats, and ex 
ercises which, by order of the archbishop, he preached for 
the first time to the clergy of Naples, in 1732, when he 
had been a priest only six years. He was then regarded 
as a model for imitation, and as a master worthy of being 
intrusted with the duty of educating ministers of the 
sanctuary of every grade. 

This book is one that has had most success, thus 
giving us a high idea of the good that it has effected. 
It was at once translated into the principal languages of 
Europe. There are at least five translations of it in 
French, among which the translation by Mgr. Gaume, 
an author of very many valuable works, deservedly 
holds a high rank. To several of these translations the 
first word of the Italian title Selva* has been given, the 
word Selva meaning wood, forest, material, collection of 

1 Volumes XIII. and XIV. treat of the Holy Mass and of the divine 
Office; volumes XV. and XVI. of missions and of preaching, and 
a subsequent volume containing Pastoral letters. 

2 Selva di materie predicabili ed istruttive, per dare gli esercizj ai 
Preti, ed anche per uso di lezione privata a prcprio profitto ; the transla 
tion of this we give as the sub-title of the work. 

6 Notice. 

matter. We have, however, preferred to give to this 
work and to this volume a title that clearly expresses 

The author informs us in his preface that he did not 
endeavor to put much order into the collection of ideas 
suitable for each subject; we, however, perceive that 
there is more order in it than he would have us believe. 
In order the better to understand the author, we have, 
as much as possible, divided each subject into para 
graphs; by such an arrangement the subjects are not 
only more easily grasped and retained, but we may most 
conveniently use this book either for meditation or for 
spiritual reading. 

We think it to be not amiss if we call to mind what 
we have elsewhere said, namely, that all the citations 
from authors, accompanied by references to the margin, 
have been carefully verified and corrected when neces 
sary. St. Alphonsus was not always able to draw from 
original sources: he was often obliged to content him 
self with what was offered him by the authors whom he 
had at hand, and who themselves only reproduced the 
mistakes of their predecessors, which were increased by 
the mistakes of copyists or of printers. Hence it was 
necessary to consult the original texts in order to obtain 
exact citations. 

As to the value and utility of this Collection, we take 
pleasure in quoting the following passage from the 
preface of Mgr. Gaume: 

" We have Massillon, Sevoy, le Miroir du dergc. What 
have you ? three authorities that are without doubt re 
spectable; but they are, after all, private authorities, 
and your reason, so often the dupe of such authorities, 
hesitates, distrusts, and using its right, judges, adopts, 
rejects, and never raises itself to a philosophical faith. 
Useful at all times, these works monuments of elo 
quence or of piety suffice no longer at the present day. 

Notice. 7 

To the vast development of error we must oppose the 
analogous development of truth; to this invasion of 
private spirit we must oppose the imposing authority of 
the Catholic spirit. Read Selva, and say whether it is 
possible to reach this end in a better manner. Here is 
not man s thought that is given to you as a rule for 
your thought: it is the thought of ages; it is not the 
Bishop of St. Agatha; it is solely tradition that preaches 
that instructs, that forbids, that commands, that en 
courages, or that terrifies. This book is as a sacred 
tribune from which speak one after another the prophets, 
the apostles, the apostolic men, the martyrs, the soli 
taries, the most illustrious pontiffs of the East and the 
West, the most famous Doctors, the most skilful masters 
of the science of the saints, the successors of St. Peter 
and the councils, the organs of the Holy Ghost; in a 
word, antiquity, the middle ages, modern times, the 
entire Church. 

"In the midst of this august assembly what does the 
holy bishop do ? Nearly always he limits his task to the 
modest role of a narrator; often even he leaves to you 
the care of drawing conclusions. There are no long 
reasonings, inductions, special interpretations. In this 
consist the particular merit and providential character 
of Selva. More than at any other epoch did the world 
and the clergy, who should save the world, stand in 
need of Catholic thought, and the saint gives it pure 
and entire; he feared to weaken it by mingling his own 
with it. . . ." 2 

1 St. Alphonsus was not yet a bishop when he published this work; 
he was appointed to this office two years later. 

2 We read in a treatise entitled L INFALLIBILITE ET LE CONCILE 
GENERAL, ch. 8, written by Cardinal Dechamps, a note that is to the 
point. After having called St. Alphonsus " the most faithful and the 
most powerful Echo of tradition in modern times," the eloquent Car 
dinal explains that our author was, however, not a simple echo in his 
dogmatical, in his moral. .or in his ascetical works, on which he passes 

8 Notice. 

This is the language of Mgr. Gaume, and we must 
acknowledge that such is in fact the power of this book; 
but this power is equalled by the unction that accom 
panies it, as is the case with the other works of this 
author, and both its unction and its power are supported 
by the example of his life. One may in some manner 
say of him what was said of our divine Saviour: Cxpit 
facere, et docere " He began to do and to teach " (Acts ii.). 
The following are the rules of conduct that he composed 
for himself at the time he entered the ecclesiastical state, 
to serve for his guidance as a candidate for the priest 

1. The cleric should frequent the society of holy 
priests, to be edified by their example. 

2. He should spend at least one hour daily in mental 
prayer, that he may live in fervor and recollection. 

3. He should visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, 
especially during the time of exposition. 

4. He should read the lives of holy priests, that he 
may imitate their virtues. 

5. He must cultivate a special devotion to the Holy 

a eulogy which he concludes as follows: " Among his ascetical works 
there is one that St. Alphonsus has modestly entitled a COLLECTION 
of texts. At first sight one might believe that this is true; but if one 
reads the book attentively one sees that the thought of the author -is 
the framework of the whole, and that the strongest and the sweetest 
that tradition contains he skilfully adapts to the service of his pen. 
We know that nothing is more difficult than the composing of such a 
work, in which the texts are not in juxtaposition, but are united by a 
living thought that revivifies them. If St. Alphonsus is an echo, it is 
after the fashion of St. Bernard." This judgment seems to us to be 
perfectly just; we thence conclude that our venerated author is an 
echo that thinks, that admirably chooses the most proper sounds to 
express his thought with an irresistible energy; but he also knows 
how to speak in another manner when the subject demands it, as one 
may especially see in his Fourth Instruction, in which he speaks of 
preaching and the administration of the sacrament of Penance. 

Notice. 9 

Virgin, the Mother and Queen of the clergy, and conse 
crate himself particularly to her service. 

6. For the honor of the ecclesiastical state he must be 
most careful of his reputation. 

7. He should flee from worldly conversation, and not 
be too familiar with the laity, especially women. 

8. Seeing God in his Superiors, he must obey them, 
because such is the divine will. 

9. He should be modest, but without affectation, 
severity, or fastidiousness; and he should always wear 
the cassock and tonsure. 

10. He should be quiet and gentle at home, exemplary 
in class, and edifying in church, especially during the 
public offices. 

11. He should confess every eight days, and commu 
nicate still oftener. 

12. He should live free from sin, and practise every 

The young Levite, whose virtue and talents we have 
admired in another career, edified the whole city of 
Naples by a constantly increasing fervor while ascend 
ing the different degrees of the sanctuary. At the end 
of a preparation of three years he was judged worthy 
to be elevated by a dispensation to the dignity of the 
priesthood. This took place December 21, 1726. He 
then wrote the following resolutions: 

1. I am a priest; my dignity is above that of the 
angels. I should then lead a life of angelic purity, and 
I am obliged to strive for this by all possible means. 

2. A God deigns to obey my voice. I should with far 
greater reason obey his speaking to me through his in 
spirations or my Superiors. 

3. The holy Church has honored me: I must there 
fore honor myself by sanctity of life, by my zeal and 
labors, etc. 

4. I offer to the Eternal Father Jesus Christ, his Son: 

io Notice. 

it is then my duty to clothe myself with the virtues of 
Jesus Christ, that I may become fit for my office. 
. 5. Christian people see in me a minister of reconcilia 
tion, a mediator between God and man; consequently I 
must always keep myself in the grace and friendship of 

6. The faithful desire to see in me a model of the 
virtues to which they should aspire; I must then be 
edifying always and under all circumstances. 

7. Poor sinners that have lost the light of grace come 
to me to be spiritually resuscitated: I must therefore 
aid them by my prayers, exhortations, and good ex 

8. Courage is necessary to triumph over the world, 
the flesh, and the devil; I must then correspond with 
divine grace that I may combat these virtues victoriously. 

9. To defend religion and fight against error and 
impiety, one must have knowledge. I will then strive, 
by every means within my reach, to acquire the neces 
sary knowledge. 

10. Human respect and worldly friendships dishonor 
the priesthood; I will then avoid them. 

11. Ambition and self-interest have often caused 
priests to lose their faith; I must then abhor these 
vices as sources of reprobation. 

12. Gravity should accompany charity in a priest; I 
will then be prudent and reserved, especially with re 
gard to women, without being proud, rough, or dis 

13. I can please God only by recollection, fervor, 
and solid virtue, which nourish the holy exercise of 
prayer; I will then neglect nothing which may tend to 
their acquisition. 

14. I should seek only the glory of God, my own 
sanctification, and the salvation of souls; consequently, 
I must achieve these ends though it should cost my life. 

Notice. 1 1 

15. I am a priest; it is my duty to inspire virtue in 
all with whom I come in contact, and to glorify Jesus 
Christ, the eternal High-priest. 1 

Such was the aurora of this star that was to pass 
through so grand a career, and raise itself to so high a 
perfection. Quasi lux splendens, procedit, et crescit usque 
ad perfectam diem " As a shining light goeth forwards * 
and increaseth even to perfect day" (Prov. iv. 18). 
Our saint is already recognized as one of the purest 
lights that God has sent to illumine the world. Quasi 
sol refulgens, sic ille effulsit in templo Dei " As the sun 
when it shineth, so did he shine in the temple of God" 
(Ecclus. 1. 7). A new ray has been added to his glory: 
he has been declared a Doctor of the Church. Let us 
not omit to profit by his teachings and imitate his vir 
tues in order that we may one day share in his eternal 

Live Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Alphonsus ! 

t, 1. i, ch. n. 




NOTICE, . . .5 




I. Idea of the priestly dignity, 23. 
II. Importance of the priestly office, 24. 

III. Grandeur of the priestly power, 26. 

IV. The dignity of the priest surpasses all other created 

dignities, 29. 

V. Elevation of the post occupied by the priest, 33. 
VI. Conclusion, 37. 

I. The priesthood appears to the saints a formidable charge, 

IL What is the end of the priesthood, 41. 
III. Principal duties of the priest, 43. 

I. What should be the sanctity of the priest by reason of his 

dignity, 48. 

II. What should be the sanctity of the priest as the minister 
of the altar, 55. 

III. What should be the sanctity of the priest as mediator 

between God and man, 59. 

IV. What should be the sanctity of the priest given to the 

people to be their model, 62. 
V. Practical consequences, 64. 

PRIEST, ....... 70 

I. Grievousness of sin in a priest, 70. 
II. Chastisement of the sinful priest, 75. 
III. Exhortation, 82. 

1 4 Contents. 



I. To what the tepid priest is exposed, 88. 
II. A priest cannot be satisfied with avoiding grievous sins, 

III. Exhortation, 101. 


I. Necessity of purity in the priest, 107. 
II. Malice of impurity in the priest, 109. 

III. Sad effects of impurity, 113. 

Blindness of the soul, 113. Obstinacy of the will, 117. 
Eternal damnation, 119. 

IV. Remedies for incontinence, 120. 


I. Purity required in the priest to celebrate worthily, 122. 
II. How great is the crime of the priest that celebrates Mass 

in mortal sin, 125. 


I. The obligation of every priest to labor for the salvation of 

souls, 154. 

II. The pleasure that a priest who labors for the salvation of 
souls gives to God, 166. 

III. How secure the priest who labors for the salvation of souls 

renders his own salvation, and how great the reward 
that he shall receive in heaven, 172. 

IV. The end, the means, and the labors of the priest who has 

zeal, 177. 

The end to be proposed, 177. Means to be em 
ployed, 178. Works of a zealous priest, 180. 

I. Necessity of a divine vocation to take Holy Orders, 185. 
II. Marks of a divine vocation to the sacerdotal state, 189. 

i. Purity of intention, 192. 2. Science and talents, 193. 
3. Positive goodness of character, 194. 

III. To what dangers one exposes one s self by taking Holy 
Orders without a vocation, 198. 



I. Importance of the Holy Sacrifice and what it exacts of 

the priest, 208. 
II. The preparation for Mass, 213. 

III. The reverence and the devotion with which the priest 

should celebrate Mass, 217. 

IV. Thanksgiving after Mass, 226. 

V. The priest who abstains from saying Mass. 228. 

Contents. 1 5 



GIVE, . ... . . . -230 


I. The merit of this virtue, and its necessity to the priest, 


II. Means of preserving chastity, 247. 

Flight of the occasion, 248. Mortification, 258. Prayer, 


I. Preaching, 265. 

II. Administration of the Sacrament of Penance, 271. 

Grave responsibility of confessors, 271. The knowledge 
required to hear confessions well, 273. Charity and firm 
ness that the confessor should have, 274. How to act in 
regard to those living in the occasion of sin and those who 
are relapsing sinners, 281. 

I. Necessity of mental prayer for priests, 289. 
II. Answer to excuses, 293." 

III. The recitation of the divine Office, 302. 

I. Necessity of humility, 305. 

II. The practice of humility, 309. 

To have a horror of pride, 309. Not to glory in the 
good that we do, 312. We must distrust ourselves, 315. 
o accept humiliations, 319. 

I. We must repress anger, 323. 
II. We must bear contempt, 330. 

I. Necessity of mortification in general, 337, 

II. Necessity of interior mortification, 341. 

III. The practice of interior mortification, 345. 

Property, 345. Honors, 351. Relatives, 354. Self- 
will, 357. Means of conquering self-will, 360. 

I. Necessity of exterior mortification, 362. 
II. Practice of exterior mortification, 306. 

The eyes and the whole exterior, 367. The taste or 
appetite, 374. The touch, 377. Involuntary mortifica 
tions, 379. 

Ill The good that is derived from a mortified life, 380. 
I. Special obligation for the priest to belong entirely to God, 


II. Means to be employed for belonging entirely to God, 391. 

Desire for perfection, 391. The intention of pleasing 

1 6 Contents. 


God in all things, 395. Patience in pains and humilia 
tions, 399. Conformity to the will of God, 403. 
I. Moral necessity of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, 

II. Confidence that we should have in the intercession of the 

Mother of God. 414. 
III. Practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 421. 



I. Morning exercises, 427. 

The first acts on rising, 427. Mental prayer, 428. The 
holy Mass, 428. Confessions and study, 429. Remark 
in regard to the order of the exercises, 430. Dinner, 
II. Exercises after dinner, 431. 

Spiritual reading, 431. The visit to the Blessed Sacra 
ment and to the Blessed Virgin, 432. Recreation, 433. 

III. Exercises of the evening, 433. 

Before supper, 433. Supper, 433. The last acts before 
going to bed, 434. 

IV. Exercises that are not performed every day, 434. 

Confession, 434. The monthly retreat, 434. Special 
counsels, 435. 

To avoid sin, and trouble after sin, 436. Efficacious desire 
to advance in the love of God, 437. Devotion to the Passion 
of our Lord and to the Blessed Sacrament, 438. The intention 
of doing all for God, 439. Love of solitude and of silence, 
439. Conformity to the will of God, 441. Desire for death, 
442. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 442. To be humble of 
heart, 443. To render good for evil, 444. Interior and exterior 
mortification, 444. To pray without ceasing, 445. 


They should, above all, endeavor to make progress in the 
science of the saints, 449. 

I. Without mental prayer it is difficult for a priest to save 

his soul, 455. 
II. Without mental prayer it is impossible for the priest to 

attain perfection, 462. 
INDEX, 463 

cm& Antics of tl)e priest; 





Qt&moniticrns Nmssars for l)int rolio Qit^s tlje Spiritual 

ta priests. 

THE present little work is entitled " A Collection of 
Materials," 1 and not Discourses or Spiritual Exercises, 
because although I have endeavored to collect the 
material belonging to each subject, I have not observed 
the order necessary for a regular discourse, nor have I 
extended the thoughts. They are given without order, 
and expressed briefly, that the reader may select the 
authorities, subjects, and thoughts that are most pleas 
ing to him, and may afterwards arrange and extend 
them as he pleases, and thus make the discourse his 
own. For experience shows, that a preacher will scarce 
ly deliver sentiments with fervor and zeal unless he has 
first made them his own, at least by selecting them from 
among others, and arranging and extending them, in 
composing the discourse. Hence, I have taken from 
different authors several passages that have the same 
signification, so that the preacher may select those that 
please him most. 

I have said so much to explain the aim of the work. 
Let him who gives the spiritual exercises to priests be 
careful, first of all, to propose to himself a good end in 
his instructions: 

I. This end must be not to gain the character of a 
man of learning, of talent, and of eloquence, but only 
to give glory to God by the sanctification of his hearers. 
1 Selva* . . . See Notice, page 5. 

2o Admonitions. 

II. Let him be careful not to seek to introduce into 
his sermons ideas foreign to the subject, nor new and 
lofty thoughts that serve only to fix the mind on the 
beauty of the conceptions, but leave the will dry and 
without fruit; let him be careful to say what he con 
siders best calculated to move his hearers to make some 
good resolution. 

III. In order to attain that end, let him in his sermons 
frequently remind the hearers of the truths of eternity, 
by the consideration of which perseverance is obtained, 
according to the words of the Holy Ghost: In all thy 
works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin. 1 It is 
true, indeed, that certain priests dislike sermons on the 
last things, and are offended at seeing themselves treated 
like seculars, as if they were not, as well as seculars, to 
die and be judged. Let him, then, who gives the spiri 
tual exercises not omit at least to remind the audience 
several times of death, of judgment, and of eternity. 
These are the truths best calculated to effect a change 
of life in all that meditate upon them. 

IV. Let the preacher be careful to inculcate as much 
as possible what is practical. For example, the method 
of making mental prayer, thanksgiving after Mass, the 
correction of sinners, and above all the mode of hearing 
confessions, particularly the confessions of relapsing sin 
ners, or of those that are in the proximate occasion of 
sin. In hearing the confessions of these two classes of 
penitents, many confessors err, either by an excess of 
rigor, or by too great a facility of giving absolution 
(the latter is more frequent), and thus they are the 
cause of the damnation of so many souls. Latin pas 
sages are soon forgotten; only what is practical remains 
in the mind. 

V. Let the preacher be careful to treat with respect 

1 " Memorare novissima tua, et in aeternum non peccabis." Ecclus. 
vii. 40. 

Admonitions. 21 

and sweetness the priests who listen to him. With 
respect ; showing a veneration for them, often calling 
them men of learning and of sanctity, and when he 
inveighs against any vice, let him always speak in gen 
eral terms, protesting that he speaks not of those that 
are present. Let him guard, in a special manner, against 
censuring any defect of any particular person, as also 
against speaking in a tone of authority; but let him 
endeavor to preach in a familiar style, which is the best 
calculated to persuade and move. With respect and 
with sweetness; let him, then, never appear angry, nor 
ever break out into injurious words, which tend more to 
irritate the mind than to excite piety. 

VI. In sermons that are apt to strike terror, let him 
not induce his hearers to despair of salvation or of 
amendment. Let him always leave to all, however 
abandoned, a means by which they may hope to change 
their lives; animating them to confidence in the merits 
of Jesus Christ, and in the intercession of the divine 
Mother, and to have recourse by prayer to these two 
great anchors of hope. Let the preacher, in almost all 
his sermons, frequently and strongly recommend the 
exercise of prayer, that is, the prayer of petition, which 
is the only means of obtaining the graces necessary for 

VII. Finally, above all, let the preacher be careful to 
expect the fruit not from his own labors, but from the 
divine mercy, and from his prayers, begging of God to 
give strength to his words. For w r e know that, ordi 
narily, sermons produce scarcely any fruit in priests, 
and to induce, in the spiritual exercises, a priest to 
change his life if he is a sinner, or to become fervent if 
he is tepid, is almost a miracle, which seldom occurs. 
Hence, the conversion of priests must be the fruit of 
prayer more than of study. 





Idea of the Priestly Dignity. 

IN his epistle to the Christians of Smyrna, St. Ignatius, 
Martyr, says that the priesthood is the most sublime of 
all created dignities: "The apex of dignities is the 
priesthood." 1 St. Ephrem calls it an infinite dignity: 
The priesthood is an astounding miracle, great, im 
mense, and infinite." 1 St. John Chrysostom says, that 
though its functions are performed on earth, the priest 
hood should be numbered among the things of heaven. 3 
According to Cassian, the priest of God is exalted above 
all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights 
he is inferior only to God. 4 Innocent III. says that the 

1 "Omnium apex est Sacerdotium." Epist. ad Sniyrn. 

2 " Miraculum est stupendum, magna, immensa, infinita Sacerdoti 
dignitas." De Sacerdotio, 

3 " Sacerdotium in terris peragitur sed in rerum coelestium ordinem 
referendum est." De Saccrd. 1. 3. 

4 "O SaceVdos Dei ! si altitudinem coeli contemplaris, altior es; si 
omnium dominorum sublimitatem, sublimior es; solo tuo Creatore in 
ferior es." Cat al, gloria mundi, p. 4, cons. 6. 

24 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

priest is placed between God and man; inferior to God, 
but superior to man. 1 

.St. Denis calls the priest a divine man. 2 Hence he 
has called the priesthood a divine dignity. 3 In fine, St. 
Ephrem says that the gift of the sacerdotal dignity sur 
passes all understanding. 4 For us it is enough to know, 
that Jesus Christ has said that we should treat his 
priests as we would his own person: He that heareth you, 
heareth me; he that despiseth you, despiseth me? Hence St. 
John Chrysostom says, that " he who honors a priest, 
honors Christ, and he who insults a priest, insults 
Christ. " Through respect for the sacerdotal dignity, 
St. Mary of Oignies used to kiss the ground on which a 
priest had walked. 

Importance of the Priestly Office. 

The dignity of the priest is estimated from the exalted 
nature of his offices. Priests are chosen by God to 
manage on earth all his concerns and interests. " Di 
vine," says St. Cyril of Alexandria, "are the offices con 
fided to priests." 7 St. Ambrose has called the priestly 
office a divine profession. 8 A priest is a minister des 
tined by God to be a public ambassador of the whole 
Church, to honor him, and to obtain his graces for all 

1 " Inter Deum et hominem medius constitutes; minor Deo, sed 
major homine." In Consccr. Pont. s. 2. 

2 " Qui Sacerdotem dixit, prorsus divinum insinuat virum." DC EccL 
Hier. c. i. 

3 "Angelica, imo divina est dignitas." Ibid. 

4 " Excedit omnem cogitationem donum dignitatis sacerdotalis." De 

5 " Qui vos audit, me audit; et qui vos spernit, me spernit." Luke, 
x. 16. 

6 "Qui honorat Sacerdotem Christi, honorat Christum; et qui injuriat 
Sacerdotem Christi, injuriat Christum." Hom. 17. 

1 "Genus divinis ministeriis mancipatum." DC Adorat. 1. 13. 
8 " Deifica professio." De Dignit. sac. c. 3. 

CHAP. 1.1 The Dignity of the Priesthood. 25 

the faithful. The entire Church cannot give to God 
as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single 
priest by celebrating a single Mass; for the greatest 
honor that the whole Church without priests could give 
to God would consist in offering to him in sacrifice the 
lives of all men. But of what value are the lives of all 
men compared with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which 
is a sacrifice of infinite value? What are all men before 
God but a little dust ? As a drop of a bucket, ... . as a 
little dust. 1 They are but a mere nothing in his sight: 
All nations are before him as if they had no being at all. 
Thus, by the celebration of a single Mass, in which he 
offers Jesus Christ in sacrifice, a priest gives greater 
honor to the Lord, than if all men by dying for God 
offered to him the sacrifice of their lives. By a single 
Mass, he gives greater honor to God than all the angels 
and saints, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, have 
given or shall give to him; for their worship cannot be 
of infinite value, like that which the priest celebrating on 
the altar offers to God. 

Moreover, in the holy Mass, the priest offers to God 
an adequate thanksgiving for all the graces bestowed 
even on the Blessed in Paradise; but such a thanks 
giving all the saints together are incapable of offering 
to him. Hence it is, that on this account also the 
priestly dignity is superior even to all celestial dignities. 
Besides, the priest, says St. John Chrysostom, is an am 
bassador of the whole world, to intercede with God and 
to obtain graces for all creatures. 2 The priest, accord 
ing to St. Ephrem, " treats familiarly with God." 3 To 
priests every door is open. 

1 "Quasi stilla situlae, . . . pulvis exiguus. . . . Omnes gentes, 
quasi non sint, sic sunt coram eo." Isa. xl. 15, 17. 

2 " Pro universo terrarum orbe legatus intercedit apud Deum." De 
Sacerd. \. 6. 

3 "Cum Deo familiariter agit." De Saccrdotio. 

26 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

Jesus has died to institute the priesthood. It was not 
necessary for the Redeemer to die in order to save the 
world; a drop of his blood, a single tear, or prayer, was 
sufficient to procure salvation for all; for such a prayer, 
being of infinite value, should be sufficient to save not 
one but a thousand worlds. But to institute the priest 
hood, the death of Jesus Christ has been necessary. 
Had he not died, where should we find the victim that 
the priests of the New Law now offer? a victim alto 
gether holy and immaculate, capable of giving to God 
an honor worthy of God. As has been already said, all 
the lives of men and angels are not capable of giving to 
God an infinite honor like that which a priest offers to 
him by a single Mass. 


Grandeur of the Priestly Power. 

The dignity of the priest is also estimated from the 
power that he has over the real and the mystic body of 
Jesus Christ. 

With regard to the power of priests over the real body 
of Jesus Christ, it is of faith that when they pronounce 
the words of consecration the Incarnate Word has 
obliged himself to obey and to come into their hands 
under the sacramental species. We are struck with 
wonder when we hear that God obeyed the voice of 
Josue The Lord obeying the voice of man 1 and made 
the sun stand when he said move not, O su/i, towards 
Gabaon, . . . and the sun stood still? But our wonder 
should be far greater when we find that in obedience to 
the words of his priests Hoc EST CORPUS MEUM God 
himself descends on the altar, that he comes wherever 
they call him, and as often as they call him, and places 

1 " Obediente Domino voci hominis." Jos. x. 14. 

2 " Sol, contra Gabaon ne movearis. . . . Stetit itaque sol in medio 
coeli." Ibid. x. 12. 

CHAP, i.] The Dignity of the Priesthood. 2 7 

himself in their hands, even though they should be his 
enemies. And after having come, he remains, entirely 
at their disposal; they move him as they please, from 
one place to another; they may, if they wish, shut him 
up in the tabernacle, or expose him on the altar, or 
carry him outside the church; they may, if they choose, 
eat his flesh, and give him for the food of others. " Oh, 
how very great is their power," says St. Laurence Jus 
tinian, speaking of priests. " A word falls from their lips 
and the body of Christ is there substantially formed 
from the matter of bread, and the Incarnate Word de 
scended from heaven, is found really present on the 
table of the altar ! Never did divine goodness give such 
power to the angels. The angels abide by the order of 
God, but the priests take him in their hands, distribute 
him to the faithful, and partake of him as food for 
themselves." ] 

With regard to the mystic body of Christ, that is, all 
the faithful, the priest has the power of the keys, or the 
power of delivering sinners from hell, of making them 
worthy of paradise, and of changing them from the 
slaves of Satan into the children of God. And God 
himself is obliged to abide by the judgment of his 
priests, and either not to pardon or to pardon, according 
as they refuse or give absolution, provided the penitent 
is capable of it. " Such is," says St. Maximus of Turin, 
" this judiciary power ascribed to Peter that its de 
cision carries with it the decision of God." 2 The sen 
tence of the priest precedes, and God subscribes to it, 

" Maxima illis est collata potestas! Ad eorum pene libitum, cor 
pus Christi de panis transsubstantiatur materia; descendit de coelo in 
carne Verbum, et altaris verissime reperitur inmensa! Hoc illis prse- 
rogatur ex gratia, quod nusquam datum est Angelis. Hi assistunt 
Deo; illi contrectant manibus, tribuunt populis, et in se suscipiunt." 
Serm. de Euchar. 

8 " Tanta ei (Petro) potestas attributa est judicandi, ut in arbitrio 
ejus poneretur cceleste judicium." In Nat. B. Petri, horn. 3. 

28 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

writes St. Peter Damian. 1 Hence St. John Chrysostom 
thus concludes: " The Sovereign Master of the universe 
only follows the servant by confirming in heaven all that 
the latter decides upon earth. " 3 

Priests are the dispensers of the divine graces and the 
companions of God. " Consider the priests," says St. 
Ignatius, Martyr, " as the dispensers of divine graces and 
the associates of God." : " They are," says St. Prosper, 
" the glory and the immovable columns of the Church; 
thay are the doors of the eternal city; through them all 
reach Christ; they are the vigilant guardians to whom 
the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of 
heaven; they are the stewards of the king s house, to 
assign to each according to his good pleasure his place 
in the hierarchy." 

Were the Redeemer to descend into a church, and sit 
in a confessional to administer the sacrament of pen 
ance, and a priest to sit in another confessional, Jes us 
would say over each penitent, " Ego te absolve," the 
priest would likewise say over each of his penitents, 
" Ego te absolve," and the penitents of each would be 
equally absolved. How great the honor that a king 
would confer on a subject whom he should empower to 
rescue from prison as many as he pleased ! But far 
greater is the power that the eternal Father has given 
to Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ has given to his 
priests, to rescue from hell not only the bodies but also 

1 " Praecedit Petri sententia sententiam Redemptoris." Serm. 26. 

2 " Dominus sequitur servum; et quidquid hie in inferioribus judi- 
caverit, hoc ille in supernis comprobat." De Verbis Is. horn. 5. 

" In domo Dei, divinorum bonorum ceconomos, sociosque Dei, 
Sacerdotes respicite." Ep. ad Polyc. 

4 " Ipsi sunt Ecclesiae decus, columnse firmissimae; ipsi januae Civi- 
tatis aeternae, per quos omnes ingrediuntur ad Christum; ipsi janitores, 
quibus claves datse sunt regni coelorum; ipsidispensatoresregise domus, 
quorum arbitrio dividuntur gradus singulorum. " DC Vita cont. 1. 2, 

C. 2. 

CHAP, i.] The Dignity of the Priesthood. 29 

the souls of the faithful: " The Son," says St. John Chrys- 
ostom, "has put into the hands of the priests all judg 
ment; for having been as it were transported into 
heaven, they have received this divine prerogative. If 
a king gave to a mortal the power to release from 
prison all prisoners, all would pronounce such a one 
happy; but priests have received from God a far greater 
power, since the soul is more noble than the body." 


The Dignity of the Priest Surpasses all other Created 

Thus the sacerdotal dignity is the most noble of all 
the dignities in this world. " Nothing," says St. Am 
brose, "is more excellent in this world." 2 It transcends, 
says St. Bernard, "all the dignities of kings, of em 
perors, and of angels." : According to St. Ambrose, the 
dignity of the priest as far exceeds that of kings, as the 
value of gold surpasses that of lead. 4 The reason is, 
because the power of kings extends only to temporal 
goods and to the bodies of men, but the power of the 
priest extends to spiritual goods and to the human soul. 
Hence, says St. Clement, " as much as the soul is more 
noble than the body, so much is the priesthood more 
excellent than royalty." 5 " Princes," says St. John 

1 " Omne judicium a Filio illis traditum Nam, quasi in 

coelum translati, ad principatum istum perducti sunt. Si cui rex hunc 
honorem detulerit, ut potestatem habeat quoscunque in carcerem con- 
jectos laxandi, beatus ille judicio omnium fuerit; at vero qui tanto 
majorem a Deo accepit potestatem, quanto animae corporibus prae- 
stant." De Sacerd. \. 3. 

2 " Nihil in hoc saeculo excellentius." DC Dignit. sac. c. 3. 

3 " Prsetulit vos, Sacerdotes, regibus et imperatoribus; prsetulit 
Angelis." Serm. ad Pastor, in syn. 

4 Longe erit inferius, quam si plumbum ad auri fulgorem com 
pares." De Dignit. sac. c. 2. 

5 Quanto anima corpore praestantior est, tanto est Sacerdotium 
regno excellentius." Constit. apost. 1. 2, c. 34. 

30 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

Chrysostom, "have the power of binding, but they bind 
only the bodies, while the priest binds the souls." ] 

The kings of the earth glory in honoring priests: " It 
is a mark of a good prince," says Pope St. Marcellinus, 
" to honor the priests of God." a " They willingly," says 
Peter de Blois, " bend their knee before the priest of 
God; they kiss his hands, and with bowed down head 
receive his benediction." 5 "The sacerdotal dignity," 
says St. Chrysostom, "effaces the royal dignity; hence 
the king inclines his head under the hand of the priest 
to receive his blessing." 4 Baronius relates that when 
the Empress Eusebia sent for Leontius, Bishop of Trip 
oli, he said that if she wished to see him, she should 
consent to two conditions: first, that on his arrival she 
should instantly descend from the throne, and bowing 
down her head, should ask his benediction; secondly, 
that he should be seated on the throne, and that she 
should not sit upon it without his permission: he added, 
that unless she submitted to these conditions he should 
never go to the palace. Being invited to the table of 
the Emperor Maximus, St. Martin, in taking a draught, 
first paid a mark of respect to his chaplain, and then to 
the emperor. In the Council of Nice, the Emperor 
Constantine wished to sit in the last place, after all the 
priests, and on a seat lower than that which they occu 
pied; he would not even sit down without their per 
mission. The holy king St. Boleslans had so great a 
veneration for priests, that he would not dare to sit in 
their presence. 

1 " Habent principes vinculi potestatem, verum corporum solum; 
Sacerdotes vinculum etiam animarum contingit." De Sacerd. 1. 3. 

2 " Boni principis est Dei Sacerdotes honorare." Cap. Boni princ. 
dist. 96. 

3 " Reges flexis genibus offerunt ei munera, et deosculantur manum, 
ut ex ejus contactu sanctificentur." Scrm. 47. 

4 " Major est hie principatus quam regis; propterea rex caput sub- 
mittit manui Sacerdotis." DC Verbis Is. horn. 4. 

The Dignity of the Priesthood. 3 1 

The sacerdotal dignity also surpasses the dignity of the 
angels, who likewise show their veneration for the priest 
hood, says St. Gregory Nazianzen. 1 All the angels in 
heaven cannot absolve from a single sin. The angels 
guardian procure for the souls committed to their care 
grace to have recourse to a priest that he may absolve 
them : " Although," says St. Peter Damian, " angels may 
be present, they yet wait for the priest to exercise his 
power, but no one of them has the power of the keys 
of binding and of loosening." 2 When St. Michael comes 
to a dying Christian who invokes his aid, the holy arch 
angel can chase away the devils, but he cannot free his 
client from their chains till a priest comes to absolve 
him. After having given the order of priesthood to a 
holy ecclesiastic, St. Francis de Sales perceived, that in 
going out he stopped at the door as if to give prece 
dence to another. Being asked by the saint why he 
stopped, he answered that God favored him with the 
visible presence of his angel guardian, who before he had 
received priesthood always remained at his right and 
preceded him, but afterwards walked on his left and re 
fused to go before him. It was in a holy contest with 
the angel that he stopped at the door. St. Francis of 
Assisi used to say, " If I saw an angel and a priest, 1 
would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the 

Besides, the power of the priest surpasses that of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary; for, although this divine Mother 
can pray for us, and by her prayers obtain whatever 
she wishes, yet she cannot absolve a Christian from even 
the smallest sin. " The Blessed Virgin was eminently 

1 * Sacerdotium ipsi quoque Angeli venerantur." Orat. ad Naz. tint. 

2 " Licet assistant Angeli, praesidentis (Sacerdotis) imperium exspec- 
tantes, nullus tamen eorum ligandi atque solvendi possidet potestatem." 
Serm. 2.6. 

32 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

more perfect than the apostles," says Innocent III.; " it 
was, however, not to her, but only to the apostles, that 
the Lord intrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven." 
St. Bernardine of Sienna has written: " Holy Virgin, 
excuse me, for I speak not against thee: the Lord has 
raised the priesthood above thee." 5 The saint assigns 
the reason of the superiority of the priesthood over 
Mary; she conceived Jesus Christ only once; but by 
consecrating the Eucharist, the priest, as it were, con 
ceives him as often as he wishes, so that if the person of 
the Redeemer had not as yet been in the world, the 
priest, by pronouncing the words of consecration, would 
produce this great person of a Man-God. " O wonder 
ful dignity of the priests," cries out St. Augustine; " in 
their hands, as in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the 
Son of God becomes- incarnate. " : Hence priests are 
called the parents of Jesus Christ: 4 such is the title that 
St. Bernard gives them, for they are the active cause by 
which he is made to exist really in the consecrated 

Thus the priest may, in a certain manner, be called 
the creator of his Creator, since by saying the words of 
consecration, he creates, as it were, Jesus in the sacra 
ment, by giving him a sacramental existence, and pro 
duces him as a victim to be offered to the eternal Father. 
As in creating the world it was sufficient for God to 
have said, Let it be made, and it was created He spoke, 

J " Licet Beatissima Virgo excellentior fuerit Apostolis, non tamen 
illi, sed istis Dominus claves regni coelorum commisit." Cap. Nova 
quccdam. DC Pccnit. 

* "Virgo benedicta, excusa me, quia non loquor contra te: Sacer- 
dotium ipse praetulit supra te." T. i, s. 20, a. 2, c. 7. 

3 " O veneranda Sacerdotum dignitas, in quorum manibus, veldt in 
utero Virginis, Filius Dei incarnatur." Molina. Instr. Sacerd. tr. i,c. 
5, 2. 

4 " Parentes Christi." S. ad Past, in syn. 

CHAP, i.] The Dignity of the Priesthood. 33 

and they were made? so it is sufficient for the priest to 
say, " Hoc est corpus meum," and behold the bread is 
no longer bread, but the body of Jesus Christ. " The 
power of the priest," says St. Bernardine of Sienna, " is 
the power of the divine person; for the transubstan- 
tiation of the bread requires as much power as the 
creation of the world." 2 And St. Augustine has writ 
ten, " O venerable sanctity of the hands! O happy func 
tion of the priest ! He that created (if I may say so) 
gave me the power to create him; and he that created 
me without me is himself created by me!" ! As the 
Word of God created heaven and earth, so, says St. 
Jerome, the words of the priest create Jesus Christ. 
" At a sign from God there came forth from nothing 
both the sublime vault of the heavens and the vast ex 
tent of the earth; but not less great is the power that 
manifests itself in the mysterious words of the priest." * 
The dignity of the priest is so great, that he even blesses 
Jesus Christ on the altar as a victim to be offered to the 
eternal Father. In the sacrifice of the Mass, writes 
Father Mansi, Jesus Christ is the principal offerer and 
victim; as minister, he blesses the priest, but as victim, 
the priest blesses him. 


Elevation of the Post Occupied by the Priest. 
The greatness of the dignity of a priest is also esti 
mated from the high place that he occupies. The 

1 " Ipse dixit, et facta sunt." Ps. xxxii. 9. 

2 " Potestas Sacerdotis est sicut potestas Personarum divinarum; 
quia, in panis transsubstantiatione, tanta requiritur virtus, quanta in 
mundi creatione." Loco cit. 

3 " O venerabilis sanctitudo manuum! o felix exercitium! Qui 
creavit me (si fas est dicere) dedit mihi create se; et qui creavit me sine 
me ipse creavit se mediante me!" 

4 " Ad nutum Domini, ex nihilo substiterunt excelsa ccelorum, vasta 
terrarum; ita parem potentiam in spiritualibus Sacerdotis verbis praebet 
virtus." Horn, de Corpore Chr. 


34 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

priesthood is called, at the synod of Chartres, in 1550, 
the seat of the saints. Priests are called Vicars of Jesus 
Christ, because they hold his place on earth. " You 
hold the place of Christ," says St. Augustine to them; 
"you are therefore his lieutenants." ] In the Council of 
Milan, St. Charles Borromeo called priests the repre 
sentatives of the person of God on earth. 2 And before 
him, the Apostle said: For Christ we are ambassadors, 
God, as it were, exhorting by us? 

When he ascended into heaven, Jesus Christ left his 
priests after him to hold on earth his place of mediator 
between God and men, particularly on the altar. " Let 
the priest," says St. Laurence Justiniari, "approach the 
altar as another Christ. M According to St. Cyprian, a 
priest at the altar performs the office of Christ. 5 When, 
says St. Chrysostom, you have seen a priest offering sacri 
fice, consider that the hand of Christ is invisibly extended. 6 

The priest holds the place of the Saviour himself, 
when, by saying "Ego te absolvo," he absolves from 
sin, This great power, which Jesus Christ has received 
from his eternal Father, he has communicated to his 
priests. "Jesus," says Tertullian, " invests the priests 
with his own powers." 1 To pardon a single sin requires 
all the omnipotence of God. "O God, who chiefly 
manifestest Thy almighty power in pardoning and show 
ing mercy," 8 etc., says the holy Church in one of her 

1 " Vos estis Vicarii Christi, qui vicem ejus geritis." Ad Fr. in er. 
s. 36. 

8 " Dei personam in terris gerentes." 

3 " Pro Christo legatione fungimur, tamquam Deo exhortante per 
nos." 2 Cor. v. 20. 

4 "Accedat Sacerdosadaltaris tribunal ut Christus." Serm. deEuchar. 

5 l< Sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur." Ep. ad Occil. 

6 " Cum videris Sacerdotem offerentem, consideres Christi manum in- 
visibiliter extensam." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 60. 

7 " De suo vestiens Sacerdotes." 

8 " Deus, qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo maxime et miserendo 
manifestas." Dam. \v post Pent. 

CHAP, i,] The Dignity of the Priesthood. 3 5 

prayers. Hence, when they heard that Jesus Christ 
pardoned the sins of the paralytic, the Jews justly said: 
Who can forgive sins but God alone ? But what only God 
can do by his omnipotence, the priest can also do by 
saying " Ego te absolve a peccatis tuis;" for the forms 
of the sacraments, or the words of the forms, produce 
what they signify. How great should be our wonder if 
we saw a person invested with the power of changing a 
negro into a white man; but the priest does what is far 
more wonderful, for by saying " Ego te absolvo " he 
changes the sinner from an enemy into the friend of 
God, and from the slave of hell into an heir of paradise. 
Cardinal Hugo represents the Lord addressing the 
following words to a priest who absolves a sinner: " I 
have created heaven and earth, but I leave to you a 
better and nobler creation; make out of this soul that 
is in sin a new soul, that is, make out of the slave of 
Satan, that the soul is, a child of God. I have made the 
earth bring forth all kinds of fruit, but to thee I confide 
a more beautiful creation, namely, that the soul should 
bring forth fruits of salvation." 5 The soul without 
grace is a withered tree that can no longer produce 
fruit; but receiving the divine grace, through the minis 
try of a priest, it brings forth fruits of eternal life. St. 
Augustine says, that to sanctify a sinner is a greater 
work than to create heaven and earth. 3 And hast thou, 
says Job, an arm like God, and canst thou thunder with a 
voice like Him ?* Who is it that has an arm like the arm 

1 " Quis potest dimittere peccata, nisi solus Deus?" Luke, v. 21. 

" 2 " Ego feci coehim et terram; verumtamen meliorem et nobiliorem 
creationem do tibi: fac novam animam quae est in peccato. Ego feci ut 
terra produceret fructus suos; do tibi meliorem creationem, ut anima 
fructus suos producat." 

3 " Prorsus majus hoc esse dixerim, quam est coelum et terra, et quae- 
cunque cernuntur in ccelo et in terra." In Jo. tr. 72. 

4 " Et si habes brachium sicut Deus, et si voce simili tonas?" Jol\ 
xl. 4- 

36 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

of God, and thunders with a voice like the thundering 
voice of God ? It is the priest, who, in giving absolu 
tion, exerts the arm and voice of God, by which he 
rescues souls from hell. 

According to St. Ambrose, a priest, in absolving a 
sinner, performs the very office of the Holy Ghost in the 
sanctification of souls. 1 Hence, in giving priests the 
power of absolving from sin, the Redeemer breathed on 
them, and said to them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins 
you shall forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins you shall 
retain, they are retained? 1 He gave them his own Spirit, 
that is, the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier of souls, and thus 
made them, according to the words of the Apostle, his 
own coadjutors: We are God s coadjutors. 1 " On priests," 
says St. Gregory, "it is incumbent to give the final 
decision, for by the right that they have received from the 
Lord they now remit, now retain sins." 4 St. Clement, 
then, had reason to say that the priest is, as it were, a 
God on earth. 5 God, said David, stood in the congregation 
of the gods? These gods are, according to St. Augustine, 
the priests of God. 7 Innocent III. has written: " Indeed, 
it is not too much to say that in view of the sublimity of 
their offices the priests are so many gods." 

1 " Munus Spiritus Sancti, officium Sacerdotis." 

2 " Insufflavit, et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum Sanctum: quorum remi- 
seritis peccata, remittuntur eis; et quorum retinueritis, retenta sunt." 
John, xx. 22. 

3 " Dei enim sumus adjutores." I Cor. iii. 9. 

4 " Principatum superni judicii sortiuntur; ut, vice Dei, quibusdam 
peccata retineant, quibusdam relaxent." In Evang. horn. 26. 

5 " Post Deum, terrenus Deus." Const, a post. 1. 2, c. 26. 

6 " Deus stetit in synagoga Deorum." Ps. Ixxxi. i. 

1 " Dii excelsi, in quorum synagoga Deus Deorum stare desiderat." 
Ad Fr. in er. s. 36. 

8 " Sacerdotes, propter officii dignitatem, Deorum nomine nuncupan- 
tur." Can. Cum ex injuncto. De Haret. 

CHAP, i.] The Dignity of the Priesthood. 3 7 


How great, then, says St. Ambrose, the disorder to 
see in the same person the highest dignity and a life 
of scandal, a divine profession and wicked conduct ! 
What, says Salvian, is a sublime dignity conferred on an 
unworthy person but a gem enchased in mire ? 2 

Neither doth any man, says St. Paul, take the honor to 
himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. For 
Christ did not glorify Himself that He might be made a high 
priest; but He that said unto Him: Thou art my Son; this day 
have I begotten Thee? Let no one, he says, dare to ascend 
to the priesthood, without first receiving, as Aaron did, 
the divine call; for even Jesus Christ would not of 
himself assume the honor of the priesthood, but waited 
till his Father called him to it. From this we may infer 
the greatness of the sacerdotal dignity. But the greater 
its sublimity, the more it should be dreaded. "For," 
says St. Jerome, " great is the dignity of priests; but 
also, when they sin, great is their ruin. Let us rejoice 
at having been raised so high, but let us be afraid of 
falling." 4 Lamenting, St. Gregory cries out: "Purified 
by the hands of the priest the elect enter the heavenly 
country, and alas ! priests precipitate themselves into 

1 " Ne sit honor sublimis, et vitadeformis; deifica professio, et illicita 
actio. Actio respondeat nomini." De Dignat. sac. c. 3. 

2 " Quid est dignitas in indigno, nisi ornamentum in luto?" Ad 
Ecd. cath. 1. 2. 

3 "Nee quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo, tam- 
quam Aaron. Sic et Christus non semetipsum clarificavit ut Pontifex 
fieret, sed qui locutus est ad eum: Filius meus es tu; ego hodie genui 
Mt."Heb. v. 4. 

4 " Grandis dignitas Sacerdotum, sed grandis ruina eorum, si peccant. 
Lsetemur ad ascensum, sed timeamus ad lapsum." In Ezech. c. 44. 

38 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

the fire of hell !" The saint compares priests to the 
baptismal water which cleanses the baptized from their 
sins, and sends them to heaven, " and is afterwards 
thrown into the sink." 2 

1 " Ingrediuntur electi, Sacerdotum manibus expiati, coelestem pa- 
triatn: et Sacerdotes ad inferni supplicia festinant !" 

2 " Et ipsa in cloacas descendit !" In Evang. horn. 17. 

CHAP, ii.] The End of tJie Priesthood. 39 



The Priesthood Appears to the Saints a Formidable Charge. 

ST. CYPRIAN said, that all those that had the true 
spirit of God were, when compelled to take the order 
of priesthood, seized with fear and trembling, as if they 
saw an enormous weight placed on their shoulders, by 
which they were in danger of being crushed to death. 
"I see," said St. Cyril of Alexandria, " all the saints 
frightened at the sacred ministry, as at an immense 
charge." 1 St. Epiphanius writes, that he found no one 
willing to be ordained a priest. A Council held in 
Carthage ordained that they that were thought worthy, 
and refused to be ordained, might be compelled to be 
come priests. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen says: "No one rejoices when 
he is ordained priest." 5 In his life of St. Cyprian, Paul 
the Deacon states that when the saint heard that his 
bishop intended to ordain him priest, he through humil 
ity concealed himself. 3 * It is related in the life of St. 
Fulgentius that he too fled away and hid himself. 4 St. 
Athanasius also, as Sozomen relates, took flight in order 
to escape the priesthood. St. Ambrose, as he himself 

1 " Omnes sanctos reperio divini ministerii ingentem veluti molem 
formidantes." De Fest. pasch. horn. I. 

2 " Nemo laeto animo creattir Sacerdos." 

3 " Humiliter secessit. " Vita S. Cypr. 

4 " Vota eligentium velociori prseveniens fuga, latebris incertis abscoa- 
ditur." Vita S. Fulg. c. i6 

40 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

attests, resisted for a long time before he consented to 
be ordained. 1 St. Gregory, even after it was made mani 
fest by miracles that God wished him to be a priest, 
concealed himself under the garb of a merchant, in 
order to prevent his ordination. 

To avoid being ordained, St. Ephrem feigned mad 
ness; St. Mark cut off his thumb; St. Ammonius cut off 
his ears and nose, and because the people insisted on 
his ordination, he threatened to cut out his tongue, and 
thus they ceased to molest him. 

It is known to all, that St. Francis remained a deacon, 
and refused to ascend to the priesthood, because he 
learned by revelation, that the soul of a priest should 
be as pure as the water that was shown to him in a 
crystal vessel. The Abbot Theodore was only a deacon, 
but he would not exercise the duties of the Order he 
had received because during prayer he was shown a 
pillar of fire, and heard the following words: "If you 
have a heart as inflamed as this pillar, you may then 
exercise your Order." The Abbot Motues was a priest, 
but always refused to offer the holy Mass, saying that 
he had been compelled to take holy Orders, and that 
because he felt himself unworthy, he could not celebrate. 

Formerly there were but few priests among the 
monks, whose lives were so austere; and the monk who 
aspired to the priesthood was considered to be a proud 
man. Hence, to try the obedience of one of his monks, 
St. Basil commanded him to ask in public the Order of 
priesthood; his compliance was regarded as an act of 
heroic obedience, because by his obedience in asking to 
be ordained priest he, as it were, declared himself to be 
a man filled with the spirit of pride. 

But how, I ask, does it happen that the saints, who 
live only for God, resist their ordination through a sense 

1 " Quam resistebam, ne ordinarer !" Epist. 82. 

CHAP, ii.] The End of the Priesthood. 4 1 

of their unworthiness, and that some run blindly to the 
priesthood, and rest not until they attain it by lawful or 
unlawful means ? Ah, unhappy men ! says St. Bernard, 
to be registered among the priests of God shall be for 
them the same as to be enrolled on the catalogue of the 
damned. And why? Because such persons are gener 
ally called to the priesthood, not by God, but by rela 
tives, by interest, or ambition. Thus they enter the house 
of God, not through the motive that a priest should have, 
but through worldly motives. Behold why the faithful 
are abandoned, the Church dishonored, so many souls 
perish, and with them such priests are also damned. 

What is the End of the Priesthood. 

God wills that all men should be saved, but not in the 
same way. As in heaven he has distinguished different 
degrees of glory, so on earth he has established differ 
ent states of life, as so many different ways of gaining 
heaven. On account of the great ends for which it has 
been instituted, the priesthood is of all these the most 
noble, the most exalted and sublime. What are these 
ends? Perhaps the sole ends of the priesthood are to 
say Mass, and to recite the Office, and then to live like 
seculars ? No, the end for which God has instituted the 
priesthood has been to appoint on earth public persons 
to watch over the honor of his divine majesty, and to 
procure the salvation of souls. For every high priest, says 
St. Paul, taken from among men, is ordained for men in the 
things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and 
sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on them that are 
ignorant and that err. 1 To execute the office of the priest- 

1 " Omnis namque Pontifex, ex hominibus assumptus, pro hominibus 
constituitur in iis quae sunt ad Deum, ut offerat dona et sacrificia pro pec- 
atis; qui condolere possit iis qui ignorant et errant.." Heb^ v i^ 

42 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

hood and to have praise. 1 " That is," says Cardinal Hugo, 
" to perform the office of praising God." 3 And Cornelius 
a. Lapide says: " Just as it is the office of the angels to 
praise God without ceasing in heaven, so it is the office 
of priests to praise God without ceasing on earth." 3 

Jesus Christ has made priests, as it were, his co-oper 
ators in procuring the honor of his eternal Father and 
the salvation of souls, and therefore, when he ascended 
into heaven, he protested that he left them to hold 
his place, and to continue the work of redemption 
which he had undertaken and consummated. "He 
made them," says St. Ambrose, " the vicars of his love." 4 
And Jesus Christ himself said to his disciples: As the 
Father hath sent Me, I also send you. 5 I leave you to per 
form the very office for which I came into the world; that 
is, to make known to men the name of my Father. And 
addressing his eternal Father, he said: / have glorified 
Thee on earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest 
me to do; I have manifested Thy name to the men!" He then 
prayed for his priests: I have given them Thy word. . . . 
Sanctify them in truth. . . . As Thou hast sent me into the 
world, I also have sent them. Thus, priests are placed in 
the world to make known to men God and his perfec 
tions, his justice and mercy, his commands, and to pro 
cure the respect, obedience, and love that he deserves. 
They are appointed to seek the lost sheep, and when 

1 " Fungi sacerdotio et habere laudem." Ecclus. xlv. 19. 

2 " Habere laudem, id est, officium laudandi Deum." 

3 " Sicut Angelorum est perpetim laudare Deum in coelis, sic Saccr- 
dotum officium est eumdem jugiter laudare in terris." 

4 " Amoris sui velut vicarium (Petrum) relinquebat." In Luk. 1. 10, 
c. ult. 

5 " Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." John, xx. 21. 

6 "Ego te clarificavi super terram; opus consummavi. . . . Mani- 
festavi nomen tuum hominibus." John, xvii. 4. 

7 " Ego dedi eis sermonem tuum. . . . Sanctifica eos in veritate. 
. . . Sicut tu me misistl in mundum, et ego misi eos." Ibid. xvii. 18. 

CHAP, ii.] The End of the Priesthood. 43 

necessary, to give their lives for them. This is the end 
for which Jesus Christ has come on earth, for which he 
has constituted priests: As the Father hath sent me, I also 
send you. 

Principal Duties of the Priest. 

Jesus came into the world for no other purpose than 
to light up the fire of divine love. I am come to cast fire 
on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? And 
the priest must labor during his whole life, and with his 
whole strength, not to acquire riches, honors, and 
worldly goods, but to inspire all with the love of God. 
" Therefore," says the author of the Imperfect Work, 
"has Christ sent us not that we may do what is to our 

profit, but what is for the glory of God True 

love does not seek its own advantage, but it wishes in 
all things only what is the good pleasure of the person 
loved." 2 In the Book of Leviticus the Lord says to 
his priests: I have separated you from other people, that you 
should be Mine? Mark the words that you should be Mine ; 
that you may be employed in my praises, devoted to 
my service, and to my love: " The co-operators and 
dispensers of my sacraments," says St. Peter Damian. 4 
" Mine," says St. Ambrose, " that you may be the guides 
and the rulers of the flock of Christ." 5 "Mine" for, 
according to the same Doctor, the minister of the altar 

1 " Ignem veni mittere in terram; et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur ?" 
Luke, xii. 49. 

2 " Ideo vocati sumus a Christo, non ut operemur quae ad nostrum 
pertinent usum, sed quae ad gloriam Dei. . . . Verus amor non quserit 
quse sua sunt, sed ad libitum ainati cuncta desiderat perficere." 
Horn. 34. 

3 " Separavi vos a caeteris populis, ut essetis mei." Levit. xx. 26. 

4 " Sacramentorum Dei cooperatores et dispensatores." Opusc. 27, 
c. 3. 

5 " Duces et rectores gregis Christi." De Dignit. sac. c. 2. 

44 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

belongs not to himself, but to God. 1 The Lord sepa 
rates his priests from the rest of his people in order to 
unite them entirely to himself. Is it a small thing unto 
you that the God of Israel hath separated you from all the 
people, and joined you to Himself? 

If, said the Redeemer, any man minister unto Me, let 
him follow Me. 3 Let him follow Me ; he should follow 
Jesus Christ by shunning the world, by assisting souls, 
by promoting the love of God, and extirpating vice. 
The reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon 
Me." The priest, who is a true follower of Jesus Christ, 
regards injuries done to God as offered to himself. 
Seculars, devoted to the world, cannot render to God 
the veneration and the gratitude that are due to him: 
hence, says a learned author, Father Frassen, it has 
been necessary to select certain persons, that by the ful 
filment of their peculiar office and obligations they may 
give due honor to the Lord. 5 

In every government ministers are appointed to en 
force the observance of the laws, to remove scandals, to 
repress the seditious, and to defend the honor of the 
king. For all these ends the Lord has constituted 
priests the officers of his court. Hence St. Paul has 
said: Let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God. 6 
Ministers of state always endeavor to procure the re 
spect due to their sovereign, and to extend his glories; 
they always speak of him in terms of praise, and should 
they hear a word against their master, with what zeal 

1 " Verus minister altaris Deo, non sibi, natus est." In Ps. 118, s. 8. 

2 " Separavit vos Deus Israel ab omni populo, et junxit sibi." 
Num. xvi. 9. 

3 " Si quis mihi ministrat, me sequatur." John, xii. 26. 

4 Opprobria exprobrantium tibi ceciderunt super me. " Ps. Ixviii. 10. 

5 " Fuit necessarium aliquos e populo seligi ac destinari, qui ad 
impendendum debitum Deo cultum, et sui status obligatione et institu- 
tione, intenderent." Scotus acad. De Ord. d. I, a. I, q. i. 

6 " Exhlbeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros." 2 Cor. vi. 4. 

CHAP, ii.] The End of the Priesthood. 45 

do they reprove the author of it ? They study to gratify 
his inclinations, and even expose their life in order to 
please him. Is it thus that priests act for God ? It is 
certain that they are his ministers of state: by them are 
managed all the interests of his glory. Through them 
sins should be removed from the world: this is the end 
for which Jesus Christ has died. Crucified, that the body 
of sin may be destroyed. 1 But on the day of judgment how 
can the judge acknowledge as his true minister the 
priest who, instead of preventing the sins of others, is 
the first to conspire against Jesus Christ ? What would 
you say of ministers who should neglect to attend to 
the interests of their sovereign, and should refuse to 
assist him when he stood in need of their aid ? But 
what would you say if these ministers also spoke against 
their master, and endeavored to deprive him of his 
throne by entering into an alliance with his enemies ? 

Priests are the ambassadors of God, says the Apostle: 
For Christ we are ambassadors? They are his coadjutors 
in procuring the salvation of souls: For we are God s 
coadjutors: 1 For this end Jesus Christ gave them the 
Holy Ghost, that they might save souls by remitting 
their sins. He breathed on them, and He said to them : Re 
ceive ye the Holy Ghost : whose sins you shall forgive, they 
are forgiven them." Hence the theologian Habert has 
written that the essence of the priesthood consists in 
seeking ardently to procure first the glory of God, and 
then the salvation of souls. 5 

The business, then, of every priest is to attend, not to 

1 " Crucifixus est, ut destruatur corpus peccati." Rom. vi. 6. 

2 " Pro Christo legatione fungimur. " 2 Cor. v. 20. 

3 " Dei enim sumus adjutores." i Cor. iii. 9. 

4 " Insufflavit, et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum Sanctum: quorum re- 
miseritis peccata, remittuntur eis." John, xx. 22. 

6 " Ingenium sacerdotale essentialiter consistit in ardenti studio 
promovendi gloriam Dei et salutem proximi." De Ord. p. 3, c. 5, q. 3. 

46 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

the things of the world, but to the things of God: He 
is ordained in the things that appertain to God. 1 Hence St. 
Silvester ordained that for ecclesiastics the days of the 
week should be called Feria, or vacant or free days; and 
he says: " It is every day that the priest, free from 
earthly occupations, should occupy himself entirely with 
God." 2 By this he meant that we, who are ordained 
priests, should seek nothing but God and the salvation 
of souls, an office which St. Denis called " the most 
divine of all the divine offices." 1 St. Antonine says 
that the meaning of sacerdos is sacra docens, one that 
teaches sacred things. 4 And Honorius of Autun says that 
presbyter signifies prcebcns iter, one that shows the way. 5 
Hence St. Ambrose calls priests the guides and rectors of 
the flock of Christ.* And St. Peter calls ecclesiastics a 
kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people. 1 A 
people destined to acquire not riches, but souls. St. 
Ambrose calls the sacerdotal office " an office that should 
acquire not money, but souls. " Even the Gentiles 
wished their priests to attend only to the worship of 
their gods, and therefore they would not permit them 
to hold the office of secular magistrates. 

Hence, speaking of priests, St. Gregory says, with 
tears, it is our duty to abandon all earthly business in 
order to attend to the things of God, but we do the 

1 " Constituitur in iis quae sunt ad Deum." Hcbr. v. I. 

2 " Quo significaretur quotidie clericos, abjecta ceterarum rerum 
cura, uni Deo prorsus vacare debere." Brcviar. 31 Dec. 

3 " In hoc sita est Sacerdotis perfectio, ut ad divinam promoveatur 
imitationem, quodque divinius est omnium, ipsius etiam Dei cooperator 
existat." De Ca l. Hierarch. c. 3. 

4 " Sacerdos Sacra docens." Summ. p. 3, tr. 14, c. 7, r. 

5 " Presbyter Praebens iter." Gemma an. 1. i, c. 181. 

6 " Duces et Rectores gregis Christi." De Dignit. Sacerd. c. 2. 
"Regale Sacerdotium, Gens Sancta, Populus acquisitions. "- 

i Pd. ii. 9. 

8 " Officium quaestus, non pecuniarum, sed animarum." Scrm. 78. 

CHAP, ii.] The End of the Priesthood. 47 

very contrary, " for we desert the cause of God and 
devote all our care to the things of the earth." 1 After 
being appointed by God to attend only to the advance 
ment of his glory, Moses spent his time in settling the 
disputes of the people. Jethro rebuked him for his con 
duct, saying: Thou art spent with foolish labor. . . . Be 
thou to the people in the things that pertain to God? But 
what would Jethro say if he saw our priests employed 
in mercantile affairs, acting as the servants of seculars, 
or occupied in arranging marriages, but forgetful of the 
works of God; if, in a word, he saw them seeking, as 
St. Prosper says, " to advance in wealth, but not in vir 
tue, and to acquire greater honors, but not greater 
sanctity!" 3 . . . " Oh ! what an abuse," exclaims Father 
John d Avila, " to make heaven subordinate to earth !" 
" What a misery," says St. Gregory, " to see so many 
priests seeking, not the merits of virtue, but the goods 
of this life !" 4 

Hence, says St. Isidore of Pelusium, in the very works 
of their ministry they regard not the glory of God, but 
the reward annexed to them. 5 

(Many other things that might be added to this chap 
ter are omitted, because they are contained in the fol 
lowing chapter, which treats of the offices of a priest.) 

1 " Dei causam relinquimus, et ad terrena negotia vacamus." In 
Evang. horn. 17. 

2 " Stulto labore consumeris. . . . Esto tu populo in his quse ad 
Deum pertinent." Exod. xviii. 18. 

3 " Non ut meliores, sed tit ditiores fiant; non ut sanctiores, sed ut 
honoratiores sint ! " DC Vita cont. 1. I, c. 21. 

4 "Non virtutum merita, sed subsidia vitae praesentis exquirunt." 
Mor. 1. 23, c. 26. 

5 "Ad stipendia dumtaxat oculos habent." Epiit. 1. I, ep. 447. 

48 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 



What should be the Sanctity of the Priest by Reason of his 


GREAT is the dignity of the priesthood, but great 
also are its obligations. Priests ascend to a great 
height, but in their ascent they must be assisted by 
great virtue; otherwise, instead of meriting a reward, 
they shall be reserved for severe chastisement. "The 
sacerdotal dignity," says St. Laurence Justinian, " is 
great, but great is the burden. Raised to this high 
degree of honor, it is necessary that priests sustain 
themselves by great virtue; otherwise they will have to 
expect instead of great merit great punishment." And 
St. Peter Chrysologus says: "The priests are honored, 
but I say that they are burdened." 2 The honor of the 
priesthood is great, but its burden is also great; great, 
too, is the account that priests have to render to God. 
" Priests," says St. Jerome, " will save themselves, not 
by their dignity, but by the works that correspond to 
their dignity." ! 

Every Christian should be perfect and holy, because 
every Christian professes to serve a God of holiness. 

1 " Magna dignitas, sed majus est pondus. In alto gradu positi 
sunt ; oportet quoque ut in sublimi virtutum culmine sint erecti ; alio- 
quin, non ad meritum, sed ad proprium prresunt judicium." De Inst. 
pral. c. ii. 

2 "Sacerdotes honorati; dicam autem, onerati." 

3 " Non dignitas, sed opus dignitatis salvare consuevit. " Ad 
Sophon. 3. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 49 

" In this," says St. Leo, " a Christian consists, that he 
gets rid of the earthly and puts on the heavenly man." 
Hence Jesus Christ has said: Be you therefore perfect, as 
also your heavenly Father is perfect? But the sanctity of 
the priest should be very different from that of seculars. 
" Between priests and the rest of men," says St. Ambrose, 
" there should be nothing in common as to works and 
as to conduct." : And the saint adds, that as greater 
grace is given to the priest, so his life should be more 
holy than that of seculars. 4 And St. Isidore of Pelusium 
says that between the sanctity of a priest and a good 
secular the difference should be as great as between 
heaven and earth. 5 

St. Thomas teaches that every one is obliged to prac 
tise what is suited to the state that he has chosen. 8 
And according to St. Augustine, a man by entering the 
ecclesiastical state imposes on himself the obligation 
of being holy. 7 And Cassiodorus calls the clerical pro 
fession a heavenly life. 8 The priest is, as Thomas a 
Kempis says, bound to greater perfection than all 
others, 9 because the priesthood is the most sublime of 

1 "Dum terreni hominis imago deponitur, et coelestis forma susci- 
pitur." De Pass. s. 14. 

2 " Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester coelestis perfectus 
ts\."Matth. v. 48. 

3 " Nihil in Sacerdote commune cum studio atque usu multitu- 
dinis." Epist. 6. 

4 " Debet praeponderare vita sacerdotis, sicut praeponderat gratia." 
Epist. 82. 

6 " Tantum inter Sacerdotem et quemlibet probum interesse debet, 
quantum inter ccelum et terram discriminis est." Epist. 1. 2, ep. 205. 

6 " Quicunque profitetur statum aliquem, tenetur ad ea quse illi 
statui conveniunt." 

7 " Clericus duas res professus est, et sanctitatem et clericatum." 
Semi. 355, E. B. 

" Professio clericorum, vita ccelestis." 

" Sacerdos ad majorem tenetur perfectionem sanctitatis." Imit. 
Chr. 1. 4, c. 5. 

5O Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

all states. Salvian adds, that in things in which God 
counsels perfection to seculars, he makes it imperative 
on ecclesiastics. 1 

The priests of the Old Law carried on their forehead 
a plate on which was engraved the words Sanctum 
Domino? that they might be reminded of the sanctity 
that they should profess. The victims offered by the 
priests should be entirely consumed. And why? "It 
was," says Theodoret, " to symbolize the complete sac 
rifice that the priest has made of himself to the Lord." ! 
St. Ambrose says that to offer sacrifice worthily the 
priest ought first to sacrifice himself by the oblation of 
his whole being to God. 4 And Hesychius has written 
that from youth till death the priest should be a perfect 
holocaust of perfection. 6 Hence God said to the priests 
of the Old Law: I have separated you from other people, 
that you should be mine. 6 Now, in the New Law, the 
Lord commands his priests far more strictly to abstain 
from worldly business that they may labor only to please 
that God to whom they have dedicated themselves. 
No man, says St. Paul, being a soldier to God, entangleth 
himself with secular business that he may please him to whom 
he hath engaged himself ? And the holy Church requires 
of those that enter the sanctuary by taking the first 

1 " Clericis suis Salvator, non ut cseteris voluntarium, sed imperativum 
officium perfectionis indicit." De Eccl. Cathol. 1. 2. 
2 "Sanctum Domini." Exod. xxxix. 29. 

3 " Ut integritas Sacerdotis monstraretur, qui totum se Deo dicaverit." 
In Levit. q. 3. 

4 " Hoc enim est sacrificium primitivum, quando unusquisque se 
offert hostiam, et a se incipit, ut postea munus suum possit offerre." 
De Abel, 1. 2, c. 6. 

5 Sacerdos continuum holocaustum offerre praecipitur, ut, a perfecta 
sapientia incipiens, in eadem finiat, et totam vitam suam componat ad 
perfectionem." In Levit. 1. 2, c. I. 

6 " Separavi vos a caeteris populis, ut essetis mei." Levit. xx. 26. 

7 "Nemo, militans Deo, implicat se negotiis saecularibus, ut ei pla- 
ceat. cui se probavit." 2 Tim. ii. 4. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 5 1 

tonsure, to promise that they shall not engage in secu 
lar pursuits, and to declare .that thenceforward they 
will have no other inheritance than the Lord. The Lord 
is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup ; it is Thou 
that wilt restore my inheritance to me. 1 St. Jerome says 
that the clerical dress, the very state, calls for and de 
mands sanctity of life. 2 Thus the priest should keep 
not only at a distance from every vice, but should also 
make continual efforts to arrive at perfection. In this 
consists, according to St. Bernard, the perfection that 
can be attained in this life. 3 

St. Bernard weeps at the sight of so many that run 
to Holy Orders without considering the sanctity neces 
sary for those that wish to ascend to such a height. 4 
St. Ambrose says, " Those are very rare that can say, 
* The Lord is my portion. Those are very rare whom 
passion does not inflame, or whom cupidity does not 
actuate, or whom terrestrial cares do not absorb." 5 

St. John the Evangelist writes: Who hath made us a king 
dom, and priests to God and His Father? In explaining the 
word kingdom, Tirinus with other interpreters says, that 
priests are the kingdom of God: first, because in them 
God reigns in this life by grace, and in the next by 
glory: 7 secondly, because they are made kings to reign 
over vice. 8 St. Gregory says, that the priest ought to 

1 " Dominus pars hereditatis meae et calicis mei; tu es qui restitues 
hereditatem meam mihi." Ps. xv. 5. 

2 " Clamat vestis clericalis, clamat status professi animi sanctitatem." 

3 " Jugis conatus ad perfectionem, perfectio reputatur." Epist. 254. 

4 " Curritur passim ad sacros Ordines sine consideratione." De 
Conv. ad cler. c. 20. 

5 " Quam rarus, qui potest dicere: Portio mea, Dominus; quern non 
inflammet libido, non stimulet avaritia, non aliqua negotiorum saecula- 
rium cura sollicitet !" In Ps. cxviii. s. 8. 

6 " Fecit nos regnum et Sacerdotes Deo et Patri suo." Apoc. i. 6. 
1 " In quo Deus regnat nunc per gratiam, postea per gloriam. 

8 " Fecit nos reges; regnamus enim cum ipso, et imperamus vitiis." 

52 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

be dead to the world and to all the passions, in order to 
lead a life altogether divine. 1 The present priesthood 
is the same as that which Jesus Christ has received 
from his Father: And the glory which Thou hast given to Me, 
I have given to them? Since, then, says St. Chrysostom, the 
priest represents Jesus Christ, he ought to have as much 
purity as would entitle him to stand in the midst of the 
angels. 3 

St. Paul requires that the priest should be irrepre- 
hensible: // behoveth a bishop to be blameless." In the 
word bishop, the Apostle certainly includes priests; for 
from bishops he passes to deacons, without making 
mention of priests: Deacons in like manner chaste? etc. 
Hence he intended to comprehend them under the word 
bishop. This passage is understood in this sense by 
St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, who in speak 
ing on this point says, " What he said of bishops he also 
meant for priests." Now the word irreprehensibilem 
blameless every one knows, implies the possession of all 
virtues. " It comprises all virtues," 7 says St. Jerome. 
And in explaining this word, Cornelius a Lapide says 
" that it is meant for him who is not only exempt from 
all vice, but who is adorned with all virtues." 6 

For eleven centuries, all that fell into mortal sin after 
baptism were excluded from the priesthood. This we 

1 " Necesse est ut, mortuus omnibus passionibus, vivat vita divina." 

2 " Et ego claritatem, quam dedisti mihi, dedi eis." Jo/in, xvii. 22. 

3 " Necesse est Sacerdotem sic esse purum, ut, in ipsis ccelis col- 
locatus, inter ccelestes illas virtutes medius staret." De Sacerd. 1. 3. 

4 Oportet ergo Episcopum irreprehensibilem esse." I Tim. iii. 2. 
6 " Diaconos similiter pudicos." 

6 Quae de Episcopis dixit, etiam Sacerdotibus congruit." In i Tim. 
horn. ii. 

1 " Omnes virtutes comprehend it." Ep. ad. Occanum. 

8 " Qui non tantum vitio careat, sed qui omnibus virtutibus sit orna- 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 53 

learn from the Council of Nice, 1 from the Council of 
Toledo, 2 from the Council of Elvira, 3 and from the 
Fourth Council of Carthage. 4 And if a priest after his 
ordination had fallen into sin, he was deposed, and shut 
up in a monastery, as may be observed from several 
canons. 6 In the sixth canon, the following reason is 
assigned: "Above all, what the Church wishes is per 
fect innocence. Those that are not holy should not 
touch holy things. " e And in the several canons we 
read: "Since the clerics have taken the Lord for their 
inheritance, let them not have intercourse with the 
world." 7 The Council of Trent declared, " Wherefore 
clerics called to have the Lord for their portion ought 
by all means so to regulate their whole life and con 
versation as that in their dress, comportment, gait, dis 
course, and all things else, nothing appear but what is 
grave, regulated, and replete with religiousness."* In 
ecclesiastics the Council requires sanctity in dress as 
well as in conduct, language, and every action. St. 
John Chrysostom says, that priests should be so holy 
that all may look to them as models of sanctity; because 
God has placed them on earth that they may live like 
angels, and be luminaries and teachers of virtue to all 
others. 9 

1 Can. 9, 10. 2 I. Can. 2. 3 Can. 76. 4 IV. Can. 68. 

5 Corp. fur. Can. dist. 81. 

6 " In omnibus enim quod irreprehensibile est, Sancta defendit 
Ecclesia. Qui sancti non sunt, sancta tractare non possunt." Dist. 81. 
can. 4-6. 

7 " Clerici, quibus pars Dominus est, a saeculi segregati vivant." 

8 " Decet omnino clericos, in sortem Domini vocatos, vitam moresque 
suos componere, ut habitu, gestu, sermone, aliisque rebus, nil nisi 
grave ac religione plenum prse se ferant." Sess. 2, cap. i, de Ref. 

9 " Sacerdos debet vitam habere immaculatam, ut omnes in ilium 
veluti in aliquod exemplar excellens intueantur. Idcirco enim nos 
(Deus)elegit, ut simus quasi luminaria, et magistri cseterorum efficiamur, 
ac veluti angeli cum hominibus versemur in terris." In I Tim. horn. 


54 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

The word ecclesiastic, according to St. Jerome, signifies 
a person who has taken God for his inheritance. This 
made the holy Doctor say: " Let the cleric then under 
stand the signification of his name, and let him put his 
life in harmony with his title." 1 Let ecclesiastics 
understand the signification of their name, and live 
according to it; and since God is their portion, let them 
live for God alone, says St. Ambrose. 2 

The priest is a minister destined by God for two most 
noble and exalted offices to honor him by sacrifices 
and to sanctify souls: Every high priest taken from among 
men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God? 
" Hence," says St. Thomas on this passage, " it is for the 
things that refer to God that the priest receives his mis 
sion, and by no means that he may acquire glory or 
amass riches." 4 Every priest is chosen by the Lord, 
and placed in the world to labor, not to acquire wealth 
nor applause, nor to indulge in amusements, nor to ad 
vance his family, but only to promote the interests "of 
God s glory. " He is ordained for the things that ap 
pertain to God." Hence, in the Scriptures, the priest is 
called a man of God. 5 A man that belongs not to the 
world, nor to relatives, nor to himself, but only to God, 
and that seeks nothing but God. Hence to priests 
should be applied the words of David: This is the gene 
ration of them that seek him, erf them that seek the face of the 
God of Jacob? Behold the generation that seek only 

1 " Clericus interpretetur primo vocabulum suum, ct nitatur esse 
quod dicitur. " Ep. ad Nepotian. 

2 " Cui Deus portio est, nihil debet curare, nisi Deum." DC Esau. 
c. 2. 

3 " Omnis namque Pontifex, ex hominibus assumptus, pro hominibus 
constituitur in iis quae sunt ad Deum." Hcbr. v. i. 

4 " Non propter gloriam, non propter cumulandas divitias." In 
Hebr. v. led. 1. 

5 " Homo Dei." i Tim. vi. n. 

6 " Haec est generatio quaerentium eum." Ps. xxiii. 6. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 55 

God ! As in heaven God has appointed certain angels 
to assist at his throne, so on earth, among men, he has 
destined priests to procure his glory. Hence he says to 
them, / have separated you from other people? St. John 
Chrysostom writes: " Therefore has God chosen us, that 
like angels we may live with men on earth." And God 
himself says, / will be sanctified in them that approach to 
Me. 3 " That is," adds the commentator, " my sanctity 
shall be shown forth by the sanctity of my ministers. " 


What Should be the Sanctity of the Priest as the Minister of 
the Altar. 

St. Thomas says, that greater sanctity is required in a 
priest than in religious, on account of the most sublime 
functions of his ministry, particularly in the oblation of 
the sacrifice of the Mass. " Hence," adds the holy Doc 
tor, " the cleric who is ordained sins more grievously 
under similar circumstances if he does anything con 
trary to the sanctity of his state than the religious who 
is not ordained." 5 Listen to the celebrated maxim of 
St. Augustine: "A good monk will hardly become a 
good cleric." Hence no one can be called a good 
ecclesiastic unless he surpasses a good monk in virtue. 

" A true minister of the altar," says St. Ambrose, " is 

1 " Separavi vos a caeteris populis, ut essetis mei." Levit. xx. 26. 

2 " Idcirco enim nos (Deus) elegit, ut veluti angeli cum hominibus 
versemur in terris." In i Tim. horn. 10. 

3 " Sanctificabor in iis qui appropinquant mihi. " Levit. x. 3. 

4 " Agnoscar sanctus ex sanctitate ministrorum." 

5 " Quia, per sacrum Ordinem, aliquis deputaturad dignissima min- 
isteria, quibus ipsi Christo servitur in Sacramento altaris; ad quod re- 
quiritur major sanctitas interior, quam requirit etiam religionis status. 
Unde gravius peccat, caeteris paribus, clericus in sacris Ordinibus con- 
stitutus, si aliquid contrarium sanctitati agat, quam aliquis religiosus qui 
non habet Ordinem sacrum." 2. 2, q. 184, a. 3. 

6 " Bonus monachus vix bonum clericum facit." Epist. 60, E. B. 

56 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

born for God, not for himself." That is, a priest 
should disregard his conveniencies, his interests, and 
amusements; he should consider that from the day that 
he has received the priesthood, he belongs not to him 
self, but to God; and should attend only to the interests 
of God. The Lord evidently wishes his priests to be 
pure and holy; that being cleansed from every defect, 
they may approach the altar to offer sacrifice to him: 
And, says the Prophet Malachy, He shall sit refining and 
cleansing the silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and 
shall refine them as gold and as silver, and they shall offer 
sacrifices to the Lord in justice? In the book of Leviticus 
he says: They shall be holy to their God, and shall not pro 
fane His name; for they offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, 
and the bread of their God, and therefore they shall be holy. 3 
The priests of the Old Law, then, were commanded to 
be holy, because they offered to God incense and the 
loaves of proposition, that were but a figure of the most 
holy Sacrament of the altar. How much greater should 
be the purity and sanctity of the priests of the New Law 
that offer to God the immaculate Lamb, his own very 
Son ? Estius says that we do not offer calves or in 
cense, as the priests of the Old Law did, " but the body 
of Christ who was hanging on the cross." Hence 
Bellarmine says: "Woe be to us miserable beings, to 

1 " Verus minister altaris Deo, non sibi, natus est." In Ps. cxviii 
s. 3. 

2 " Et sedebit conflans et emundans argentum; et purgabit filios 
Levi, et colabit eos quasi aurum et quasi argentum; et erunt Domino 
offerentes sacrificia in justitia." Mai. iii. 3. 

3<< Sancti erunt Deo suo et non polluent nomen ejus; incensum 
enim Domini et panes Dei sui offerunt, et ideo sancti erunt." Levit. 
xxi. 6. 

4 " Ipsum videlicet Corpus Domini, quod in ara crucis pependit. 
Ideoque sanctitas requiritur, quse sita est in puritate animi; sine qua, 
quisquis ad haec tremenda mysteria accedit, immundus accedit." In 
Levit. xxi. 6. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 57 

whom the highest office has been assigned, yet we are so 
far from the fervor that God required of the priests of 
the Old Law, who were in comparison with us only 
shadows." : 

The Lord commanded even those that carried the 
sacred vessels to be free from all stain: Be ye clean, you 
who carry the vessels of the Lord? " How much greater," 
says Peter de Blois, " should be the purity of priests 
who carry Jesus Christ in their hands and in their 
breasts ?" 3 " He that holds in his hands not only golden 
vessels," says St. Augustine, " but those vessels in which 
the death of the Lord is commemorated, must be pure." 4 
The Blessed Virgin Mary should be holy and free from 
all stain, because she was to carry in her womb, and to 
treat as a mother, the Incarnate Word. "Why, then," 
says St. John Chrysostom, " should not sanctity shine 
forth with greater splendor than the sun, in the hand 
that touches the flesh of a God? in the mouth that is 
filled with celestial fire ? and in the tongue that is pur 
pled with the blood of Jesus Christ ?" 5 The priest on 
the altar holds the place of Jesus Christ. " He should, 
then," says St. Laurence Justinian, " approach the altar 
to offer sacrifice like Jesus Christ; imitating as much 
as possible the purity and sanctity of Jesus Christ." 6 
How great the sanctity that a confessor requires in a 

1 Vse nobis miseris, qui, ministerium altissimum sortiti, tarn pro- 
cul absumus a fervore quern Salomon in umbraticis Sacerdotibus 
exigebat." In Ps. cxxxi. 7. 

8 " Mundamini, qui fertis vasa Domini." Is. Hi. n. 

3 " Quanto mundiores esse oportet, qui in manibus et corpora portant 
Christum!" Epist. 123. 

4 " Oportet mundum esse, qui non solum vasa aurea debet tractare, 
sed etiam ilia in quibus Domini mors exercetur." 

5 " Quo solari radio non splendidiorem oportet esse manum Carnem 
hanc dividentem, os quod igne spiritual! repletur, linguam quae tre- 
mendo nimis Sanguine rubescit ?" Ad pop. Ant. horn. 60. 

6 " Accedat ut Christus, ministret ut sanctus." S. de Euchar. 

58 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

nun, in order to permit her to communicate every day ? 
And why is not the same perfection required in a priest 
that celebrates every morning? 

" It must be confessed," says the Council of Trent, 
" that man can perform no action more holy than the 
celebration of Mass." ] Hence the holy Council adds, 
that priests should be most careful to offer this holy 
sacrifice with the greatest possible purity of conscience." 
" But," says St. Augustine, " what a horrible thing to 
hear the tongue that calls down the Son of God from 
heaven to earth speaking against God; and to see the 
hands that are bathed in the blood of Jesus Christ 
polluted with the filthiness of sin." : 

If God required so much purity in those that were to 
offer the sacrifice of animals and of bread, and if he 
forbid these oblations to be made by him who had any 
blemish, Whosoever hath a blemish, he shall not off er bread 
to his God, u how much greater purity," says Cardinal 
Bellarmine, "is required in those that have to offer to 
God his own Son, the divine Lamb?" St. Thomas 
says that the word macula includes every defect: 
"Whoever is addicted to airy vice should not be ad 
mitted to Holy Orders." In the Old Law, the blind, 

1 " Necessario fatemur nullum aliud opus adeo sanctum ac divinum 
tractari posse, quam hoc tremendum mysterium." 

2 " Satis apparet omnem operam in eo ponendam esse, quanta ut 
maxima fieri potest interior! cordis munditia peragatur." Scss. 22, 
deer, de Observ. 

3 " Ne lingua, quae vocat de ccelo Filium Dei, contra Dominum lo- 
quatur; et manus. quse intinguntur sanguine Christi, polluantur san 
guine peccati." Molina, Instr. Sac. tr. i, c. 5, 2. 

4 " Qui habuerit maculam, non offeret panes Deosuo." Lcvit. xxi. 


5 " Si tanta sanctitas requirebatur in Sacerdotibus qui sacrificabant 
oves et boves, quid, quaeso, requiritur in Sacerdotibus qui sacrificant 
divinum Agnum ?" In Ps. cxxxi. 7. 

6 " Qui est aliquo vitio irretitus, non debet ad ministerium Ordinis 
accedere." Suppl. q. 36, a. i. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 59 

the lame, the lepers, were forbidden to offer sacrifice. 
Neither shall he approach to minister to him, if he be blind, 
if he be lame, if he be crooked-backed, if he have a continual 
scab. 1 Understanding the preceding defects in a spiri 
tual sense, the holy Fathers say, that the blind, that is, 
they that shut their eyes to the light of God; the lame, 
that is, slothful priests that never advance in the way of 
God, and live always with the same defects, without 
mental prayer, and without recollection; the crooked- 
backed, that are, by worldly attachments, always bent 
down to the earth, to riches, to empty honors, and 
worldly amusements; and the scabious, that is, the volup 
tuous, that always wallow in sensual pleasures, The sow 
that was washed to her wallowing in the mire? are unfit to 
offer sacrifice; in a word, that he that is not holy is un 
worthy to approach the altar, because by the stains 
that he brings with him he contaminates the sanctuary 
of God. Let him not approach the altar, because he hath 
a blemish, and he must not dejile my sanctuary? 


What should be the Sanctity of the Priest as Mediator 
between God and Man. 

The priest should be holy, because he holds the office 
of dispenser of the sacraments; 4 and also because he is 
a mediator between God and sinners. " Between God 
and man the priest stands," says St. John Chrysostom, 
" by communicating to us God s benefits, and by offer- 

1 " Nee accedet ad ministerium ejus. si caecus fuerit, si claudus, . . . 
si gibbus, ... si habens jugem scabiem." Levit. xxi. 18. 
2 " Sus lota in volutabro luti." 2 Pet. ii. 22. 

3 " Nee accedat ad altare, quia maculam habet, et contaminare non 
debet sanctuarium meum." Levit. xxi. 23. 

4 " Oportet sine crimine esse, sicut Dei dispensatorem." Tit. i. 7. 

60 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

ing him our petitions; he reconciles the angry Lord, and 
wards from us the blows of his justice." 

Through priests, God communicates his grace to the 
faithful in the sacraments. Through them he makes us 
his children, and saves us by baptism: Unless a man be 
born again he cannot see the kingdom of God? Through 
them he heals the infirm, and even resuscitates, by the 
sacrament of penance, sinners that are dead to divine 
grace. Through them he nourishes souls, and preserves 
in them the life of divine grace, by means of the sacra 
ment of the Eucharist: Except you eat the flesh of the Son 
of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you? 
Through them he gives strength to the dying, to over 
come the temptations of hell, by means of the sacrament 
of Extreme Unction. 

In a word, St. John Chrysostom says, that without 
priests we cannot be saved. 4 By St. Prosper priests are 
called judges of the divine will. 5 By St. Chrysostom, 
the walls of the Church. 6 By St. Ambrose, the camps 
of sanctity, 7 and by St. Gregory Nazianzen, the foun 
dations of the world, and the pillars of the faith. 8 
Hence St. Jerome says, that the priest by the power 
of his sanctity has to carry the weight of all the sins 

1 " Medius stat Sacerdos inter Deum et naturam humanam; illinc 
venientia beneficia ad nos deferens, et nostras petitiones illuc perferens 
Dominum iratum reconcilians, et nos eripiens ex illius manibus." De 
Vcrbis Is. horn. 5. 

2 " Nisi quis renatus fuerit denuo, non potest videre regnum Dei."- 
John, iii. 3. 

3 "Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, . . . non habebitis 
vitam in vobis." JoJm, vi. 54. 

4 "Sine his, salutis compotes fieri non possumus." De Sacerd. 1. 3. 
8 " Divinae voluntatis Indices." De Vita cont. \. 2, c. 2. 

6 " Muros Ecclesise." Horn. 10. 
1 " Castra sanctitatis." De Offic. 1. i, c. 50. 
"Mundi Fundamenta et Fidei Columnas. " Carm. ad Episc. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 61 

of the world. 1 Oh, what a tremendous weight ! And 
the priest shall pray for him, and for his sins before the Lord, 
.... and the sin shall be forgiven? It is on this account 
that the holy Church obliges priests to recite the Office 
every day, and to celebrate Mass at least several times 
in the year. St. Ambrose says that priests should never 
cease by night or by day to pray for the people. 3 

But to obtain graces for others the priest must be 
holy. "Those that are mediators between God and the 
people," says St. Thomas, "must shine before God with 
a good conscience, and with a good reputation before 
men." 4 St. Gregory says that it would be temerity in 
a mediator to present himself before a prince to ask 
pardon for rebels, if he himself stood charged with the 
guilt of treason. 5 They that wish to intercede for an 
other, adds the same saint, must stand high in the esti 
mation of the king; for should they be objects of his 
hatred, their intercession will only increase the indigna 
tion of the sovereign." Hence, according to St. Augus 
tine, the priest must have such merit before God that he 
may be able to obtain for the people what they, on ac 
count of their demerits, cannot hope to receive. 7 And 

1 " Sacerdotes onus totius orbis portant humeris sanctitatis." Horn, 
de Dedic. eccl. 

2 " Orabitque pro eo Sacerdos et pro peccato ejus coram Domino, et 
repropitiabitur ei, dimitteturque peccatum." Levit. xix. 22. 

3 "Sacerdotes die noctuque, pro plebe sibi commissa, oportet orare. " 
In I Tim. c. 3. 

4 " Medii inter Deum et hominem plebem, debent bona conscientia 
nitere quoad Deum, et bona fama quoad homines." Suppl. q. 36, a. i. 

5 "Qua mente apud Deum intercessoris locum pro populo arripit, qui 
familiarem se ejus gratiae esse per vitae merita nescit?" Past. p. I, c. n. 

6 "Cum is qui displicet, ad intercedendum mittitur, irati animus ad 
deteriora provocatur." 

1 " Talem esse oportet Domini Sacerdotem. ut, quod populus pro se 
apud Deum non valuerit, ipse pro populo mereatur impetrare." In Ps. 
xxxvi. s. 2. 

62 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

Pope Hormisdas has said, " The priest must be holier 
than the people, because he must pray for them." 

But St. Bernard says, with tears, " Behold, the world 
is full of priests, and still there are but few mediators." 2 
Yes; for few priests are holy and worthy of being medi 
ators. Speaking of bad ecclesiastics, St. Augustine says: 
"To the Lord is more pleasing the barking of dogs than 
the prayer of such priests. " : Father Marchese, in his 
Journal of the Dominicans, writes that when a servant of 
God of the Order of St. Dominic implored the Lord to 
have pity on the people through the merits of priests, 
he said to her that, by their sins, priests provoked rather 
than appeased his anger. 


What should be the Sanctity of the Priest given to the 
People to be their Model. 

Priests should be holy; because God has placed them 
in the world as models of virtue. They are called by 
St. John Chrysostom, "Teachers of piety;" 4 by St. 
Jerome, " Redeemers of the world;" 5 by St. Prosper, 
"Gates to the eternal city for all nations;" 6 and by St. 
Peter Chrysologus, "Models of virtue." 7 Hence St. Isi- 
dor has said, " Whoever leads people on the road of 

1 " Emendatiorem esse convenit populo, quern necesse est orare pro 
populo." Dist. 61, can. Non neganms. 

2 " Ecce mundus Sacerdotibus plenus est, et rarus invenitur mediator." 
(We have not found these words in St. Bernard, but the following are 
St. Gregory s words: " Ecce mundus Sacerdotibus plenus est; sed tamen 
in messe Dei rarus valde invenitur operator." In Evang. horn. 17.) 

3 " Plus placet Deo latratus canum, quam oratio talium clericorum." 
Cornel, a Lapid. in Lev. i. 17. 

4 " Doctores pietatis." Horn. 10. 

5 "Salvatores mundi." In Abdiam, 21. 

6 " Januae civitatis seternre." De Vila cont, 1. 2, c. 2. 

7 " Forma virtutum." Sertn. 26. 

CHAP, iii] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 63 

virtue, must himself be holy and blameless." 1 Pope 
Hormisdas has written: "Let him be blameless that 
presides over others in order to reform them." 2 And 
St. Denis has pronounced that celebrated sentence, that 
no one should dare to become the guide of others, un 
less by his virtues he has made himself most like to 
God. 3 And according to St. Gregory, the sermons of 
the priest whose life is not edifying, excite contempt 
and produce no fruit. 4 St. Thomas adds, " For the same 
reason are disregarded all the spiritual functions of such 
a one." Speaking of the priest of God, St. Gregory 
Nazianzen writes: "The priest must first be cleansed 
before he can cleanse others; he must first himself ap 
proach God before he can lead others to him; he must 
first sanctify himself before he can sanctify others; he 
must first be himself a light before he can illumine 
others." c 

The hand that must wash away the stains and defile 
ments of others must not be polluted, says St. Gregory. 
In another place he says that the torch that does not 

1 " Qui in erudiendis atque instituendis ad virtutem populis praeerit, 
necesse est ut in omnibus sanctus sit, et in nullo reprehensibilis. " De 
Offic. eal. 1. 2, c. 5. 

2 " Irreprehensibiles esse oportet, quos necesse est praeesse corrigen- 
dis." Ep. ad Episc. Hispan, 

3 " In divino omni non audendum aliis ducem fieri, nisi, secundum 
omnem habitum suum, factus sit deiformissimus et Deo simillimus." 
De Ecd. Hier. c. 3. 

4 "Cujus vita despicitur, restat ut ejus praedicatio contetnnatur."- 
In Evang. horn. 12. 

5 " Et eadem ratione, omnia spiritualia ab eis exhibita." SuppL q. 
36, a. 4. 

6 " Purgari prius oportet, deinde purgare; ad Deum appropinquari, et 
alios adducere; sanctificari, et postea sanctificare; lucem fieri, et alios 
illuminare." Apologet. I. 

7 " Necesse est ut esse munda studeat manus, quae aliorum sordes 
curat. " Past. p. 2, c. 2. 

64 Material for Sermcns. [PART i. 

burn, cannot inflame others. 1 And St. Bernard says, 
that to him that loves not, the language of love is a 
strange and a barbarous tongue. 2 

Priests are placed in the world as so many mirrors, in 
which seculars should look at themselves: We are made 
a spectacle to the world, and to angels and to men* Hence 
the Council of Trent, speaking of ecclesiastics, says, 
"Others fix their eyes upon them as upon a mirror, and 
derive from them what they are to imitate. " Philip 
the Abbot used to say that priests are chosen to defend 
the people, but for this their dignity is not sufficient; 
sanctity of life is also necessary. 6 

Practical Consequences. 

Hence the Angelic Doctor, considering all that has 
been said on the sanctity necessary for the priesthood, 
has written, that to exercise Holy Orders worthily more 
than ordinary virtue is required. 6 Again he says, " Those 
that devote themselves to the celebration of the divine 
mysteries should be perfect in virtue." 7 In another 
place he says, " In order to exercise this office in a 

1 " Lucerna quse non ardet, non accendit." In Ezech. horn. n. 

2 " Lingua amoris, ei qui non amat, barbara est." In Cant. s. 79. 

3 Spectaculum facti sumus mundo, et Angelis et hominibus." i 
Cor. iv. 9. 

4 "In eos, tanquam in speculum, reliqui omnes oculos conjiciunt, ex 
iisque sumunt quod imitentur." Sess. 22, c. i, dc Ref. 

5 " De medio populi segregantur, ut, non solum seipsos, verum et 
populum tueantur; vero, ad hanc tuitionem, clericalis non sufficit prse- 
rogativa dignitatis, nisi dignitati adjungatur cumulus sanctitatis." De 
Dignit. cler. c. 2. 

6 Ad idoneam executionem Ordinum, non sufficit bonitas qualiscum- 
que, sed requiritur bonitas excellens." Suppl. q. 35, a. i. 

1 " Illi, qui in divinis mysteriis applicantur, perfecti in virtute esse de- 
bent." In 4 Sent. d. 24, q. 3, a. i. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 65 

worthy manner interior perfection is required." l Priests 
should be holy, that they may give glory, and not dis 
honor to that God whose ministers they are: They shall 
be holy to their God, and shall not profane His name? Were 
a minister of state seen playing in the public places, 
frequenting public-houses, associating with the rabble, 
speaking and acting in a manner calculated to reflect 
dishonor on the king, what regard could such a minister 
entertain for his sovereign ? By bad priests, who are 
his ministers, Jesus Christ is covered with shame. St. 
John Chrysostom says that of unholy priests the Gen 
tiles might say, "What kind of a God have those that 
do such things ? Would he bear with them if he did 
not approve of their conduct?" 3 Were the Chinese, the 
Indians, to see a priest of Jesus Christ leading a scandal 
ous life, they might say, how can we believe that the 
God whom such priests preach is the true God ? were 
he the true God, how could he bear them in their 
wickedness without being a party to their crimes? 

Hence the exhortation of St. Paul: In all things let us 
exhibit ourselves as ministers of God. 4 Let us, he says, 
addressing priests, appear as true ministers of God, in 
much patience bearing with peace, poverty, infirmity, per 
secutions; in watchings and fastings vigilant in what re 
gards the glory of God, mortifying the senses; in chastity, 
in knowledge, in sweetness, in charity unfeigned in guarding 
holy purity, in attending to study in order to assist souls, 
in practising meekness and true charity to our neighbor; 

" Interior perfectio ad hoc requiritur, quod aliquis digne hujusmod 
actus exerceat." 2. 2, q. 184, a. 6. 

2 " Sancti erunt Deo suo, et non polluent nomen ejus." Levit. xxi. 6. 

3 "Qualis est Deus eorum, qui talia agunt? numquid sustineret eos 
talia facientes, nisi consentiret eorum operibus?" Horn. 10. 

4 " In omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros: in multa 
patientia, in vigiliis, in jejuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in suavilate, in 
caritate non ficta: quasi tristes, semper autem gaudentes; tanquam nihil 
habentes, et omnia possidentes." 2. Cor. vi. 4. 


66 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing appearing afflicted at 
being deprived of the pleasures of the world, but enjoy 
ing the peace which is the portion of the children of 
God; as having nothing, but possessing all things poor in 
earthly goods, but rich in God; for he that possesses 
God, possesses all things. 

Such ought priests to be. In a word, they ought to 
be holy; because they are the ministers of the God of 
holiness: Be holy, because I am holy. 1 They ought to be 
prepared to give their lives for souls, because they are 
the ministers of Jesus Christ, who, as he himself has 
said, came to die for us who are his sheep: I am the good 
shepherd. The good shepherd giveth His life for His sheep? 
They ought, in fine, to be entirely employed in inflam 
ing all men with the holy fire of divine love; because 
they are the ministers of the Incarnate Word, who came 
into the world for that purpose: / am come to cast fire on 
the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? 

David earnestly besought the Lord to grant, for the 
benefit of the whole world, that his priests might be 
clothed with justice: Let the priests be clothed with justice? 
Justice comprises all virtues. Every priest should be 
clothed with faith, by living according to the maxims 
not of the world, but of faith. The maxims of the world 
are: It is necessary to possess wealth and property, to 
seek the esteem of others, to indulge in every amuse 
ment within our reach. The maxims of faith are: Happy 
are the poor; we should embrace contempt, deny our 
selves, and love suffering. The priest must be clothed 
with holy confidence; hoping for all things not from 

1 "Sancti estote quia ego sanctus sum." Levit. xi. 44. 

2 " Ego sum Pastor bonus. Bonus Pastor animam suam dat pro ovi- 
bus suis. " John, x. n. 

3 " Ignem veni mittere in terram; et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur?" 
Luke, xii. 49. 

4 " Sacerdotes tui induantur justitiam." Ps. cxxxi. q. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 67 

creatures, but only from God. He must be clothed 
with humility, considering himself worthy of all pun 
ishment and contempt; with meekness, being sweet to 
all, particularly to the rude and passionate; with charity 
towards God arid man: towards God, living in an entire 
union of his soul with God, and making his heart, by 
means of mental prayer, an altar on which the fire of 
divine love always burns; and towards man, fulfilling the 
instruction of the Apostle: Put ye on, therefore, as the elect 
of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy; 1 and endeavor 
ing to the best of his ability to relieve all in their spiri 
tual and temporal necessities. I say all even his per 
secutors and those that treat him with ingratitude. 

St. Augustine says: "Nothing in this world is more 
advantageous or more honorable in the eyes of men 
than the priestly office. But in the eyes of God nothing 
is more formidable, important, and dangerous. " It is 
a great happiness and advantage to be a priest, to have 
the power of making the Incarnate Word descend from 
heaven into his hands, and of delivering souls from sin 
and hell, to be the vicar of Jesus Christ, the light of the 
world, the mediator between God and men, to be raised 
and exalted above all the monarchs of the earth, to have 
greater power than the angels, in a word, to be, as St. 
Clement says, a God on earth: nothing more advantageous. 
But, on the other hand, nothing more important and dan 
gerous? For if in his hands, Jesus Christ descends to 
be his food, the priest must be more pure than the 
clearest water, as St. Francis of Assisi was told in a 
vision. If he is a mediator before God in favor of men, 

1 " Induite vos ergo, sicut elect! Dei, sancti et dilecti, viscera miseri- 
cordiae." Col. iii. 12. - . 

2 " Nihil in hac vita felicius et hominibus acceptability Presbyteri 
officio; sed nihil apud Deum miserius, et tristius, et damnabilius. " 
Epist. 21, E. B. 

* Const. A post. 1. 2, c. 26. 

68 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

he must not appear before God stained with the guilt of 
any sin; if he is the vicar of the Redeemer, he must be 
like him in his life. If he is the light of the world, he 
must be refulgent with the splendor of all virtues. In 
fine, if he is a priest he must be holy. If he correspond 
not with God s graces, the greater the gifts that he has 
received, the more frightful the account that he shall 
have to render to God. " For," says St. Gregory, " the 
gifts of God while augmenting augment the account 
that one has to render." 1 St. Bernard says that, the 
priest "holds a celestial office, that he is made an angel 
of the Lord, and [adds the saint], as an angel he is 
elected to glory or condemned to hell." 5 St. Ambrose 
says that a priest should be exempt even from the 
smallest faults. " Not a mediocre and ordinary virtue 
is suitable to the priest," says the same holy Doctor; 
"he must be on his guard not only against shameful 
falls, but even against light faults." 1 

Hence, if a priest is not holy, he is in great danger of 
being lost. What do some, or rather the greater number 
of priests do in order to acquire sanctity ? They say the 
Office and Mass, and do nothing more: they live with 
out making mental prayer, without mortification, with 
out recollection. Some will say, It is enough for me to 
be saved. " No," says St. Augustine, " it is not enough; 
if you say that it is enough, you will be lost." 4 To be 
holy, the priest must lead a life of detachment from all 
things, from worldly society, empty honors, etc.: and 
particularly from inordinate attachment to relatives. 

1 " Cum enim augentur dona, rationes etiam crescunt donorum." 
/;/ Evang. horn. 9. 

- " Cceleste tenet officium, angelus Domini factus est; tanquam 
angelus, aut eligitur, aut reprobatur." Declam. n. 24. 

3 " Neque enim mediocris virtus sacerdotalis est, cui cavendum, non 
solum ne gravioribus flagitiis sit affinis, sed ne minimis quidem." 
Epist. 82. 

4 " Si dixeris: Sufficit; et peristi." Serm. 169, E. B. 

CHAP, in.] Sanctity Necessary for the Priest. 69 

When they see him attend but little to the advancement 
of his family, and wholly devoted to the things of God, 
they say to him: Why dost thou do so to us? 1 He must 
answer them in the words of the Infant Jesus to his 
mother when she found him in the temple: How is it 
that you sought Me ? did you not know that I must be about 
My Father s business I* 1 Such should be the answer of a 
priest to his relatives. Have you, he should say to them, 
made me a priest ? Do you not know that a priest 
should attend only to God ? Him only do I wish to 

1 " Quid facis nobis sic?" 

2 " Quid est quod me quaerebatis? nesciebatis quia, in his quae Patris 
mei sunt, oportet me esse ?" Luke, ii. 49. 

70 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 




Grievousness of Sin in a Priest. 

THE sin of a priest is very grievous, because he sins 
in view of the light: in consenting to sin he knows well 
what he does. On this account St. Thomas says, " that 
the sin of a Christian is more grievous than the sin of an 
infidel: because he knows the truth." But the light of 
a secular, though a Christian, is very different from that 
of a priest. The priest is so well instructed in the 
divine law that he teaches it to others. The lips of the 
priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the laiu of his 
mouth? Hence St. Ambrose says, " that the sins of 
those who know the law are very grievous, because they 
are not excused by ignorance." 3 Poor seculars sin, but 
they sin in the midst of the darkness of the world, at a 
distance from the sacraments, badly instructed in spir 
itual things, and immersed in worldly business; they 
have but little knowledge of God, and consequently 
they see but imperfectly the evil that they do in con 
senting to sin. To use the words of David, they shoot in 
the dark* But priests are so full of light that they are 
the luminaries by which the people are enlightened: 

1 " Propter notitiam veritatis." 2. 2, q. 10, a. 3. 

2 " Labia enim Sacerdotis custodient scientiam, et legem requirent 
ex ore ejus." Mai. ii. 7. 

3 "Scienti legem, et non facienti, peccatum est grande." De 
Dignit. sac. c. 3. 

4 " Sagittant in obscuro." Ps. x. 3. 

CHAP, iv.] Gravity of Sin in a Priest. 71 

You are the light of the world. 1 They are well instructed 
by so many books that they have read, by so many ser 
mons that they have heard, by so many considerations 
that they have made, by so many admonitions that they 
have received from Superiors. In a word, to priests 
is given to know the mysteries of God. 2 Hence they 
well understand the claims that God has to our love and 
service, the malice of mortal sin, which is an enemy so 
opposed to God that were he capable of destruction a 
single mortal sin would, as St. Bernard says, destroy 
him; 3 and in another place the saint says: " Sin, as far as 
in it lies, aims at the destruction of God." * Thus, accord 
ing to St. Chrysostom, the sinner, as far as his will is 
concerned, puts God to death. 5 Hence Father Medina 
writes that mortal sin does so much dishonor, and gives 
so much displeasure to God, that were he capable of 
grief, sin would make him die through pure sorrow. 6 
All this the priest understands well: he has also a per 
fect knowledge of his obligations by which as a priest, 
whom the Lord has so highly favored, he is bound to 
serve and love God. The more perfectly, then, he sees 
the enormity of the injury that he does to God by com 
mitting sin, the more grievous the malice of his sin, 7 says 
St. Gregory. 

Every sin of a priest is a sin of malice; it is like the 
sin of the angels that sinned in view of the light, says 
St. Bernard, speaking of a priest; hence he adds, " He 
has become an angel of the Lord, and sinning as a 

" Vos estis lux mundi." Matth. v. 14. 

2 " Vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei." Luke, viii. 10. 

3 " Peccatum est destructivum divinse bonitatis." 

4 " Peccatum, quantum in se est, Deum perimit." In Temp. Pasch. 
s. 3. 

5 " Quantum ad voluntatem suam, occidit Deum." Horn. 40. 

* "Peccatum mortale, si possibile esset, destrueret Deum, eo quod 
esset causa tristitiae (in Deo) infinitae." De Satisf. q. i. 
1 " Quo melius videt, eo gravius peccat." 

72 Material for Sermons. IPART i. 

priest he sins in heaven." He sins in the midst of 
light, and therefore his sin, as has been said, is a sin of 
malice: he cannot allege ignorance, for he knows the 
great evil of mortal sin: he cannot plead weakness, be 
cause he knows the means by which, if he wishes, he 
can acquire strength; if he is unwilling to adopt the 
means, the fault is entirely his own. He would not under 
stand that he might do well? According to St. Thomas, 
the sin of malice is that which is committed with knowl 
edge. 3 And in another place he says: " Every sin com 
mitted through malice is against the Holy Ghost." 4 
We know from St. Matthew that the sin against the 
Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor 
in the world to come? That is, on account of the blind 
ness caused by sins of malice they shall be pardoned 
only with great difficulty. 

Our Saviour prayed on the cross for his persecutors, 
saying, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 
do* But for bad priests this prayer was a source rather 
of condemnation than of salvation: for they know what 
they do} Jeremias said with tears, How is the gold become 
dim, the finest color is changed* " The gold which has 
been obscured," says Cardinal Hugo, "is the sinful 
priest who ought to shine forth with divine love; but by 
committing sin he becomes black, and an object of hor 
ror even to hell, and becomes more hateful to God than 

1 " Angelus Domini factus est. In clero quippe, tanquam in coelo. 
gerens iniqua." Dcclam. n. 24. 

2 " Noluit intelligere, ut bene ageret." Ps. xxxv. 4. 

3 " Scienter eligitur." i. 2, q. 78, a. i. 

4 " Omne peccatum ex malitia est contra Spiritum Sanctum." D, 
Malo, q. 3, a. 14. 

5 " Non remittetur ei, neque in hoc saeculo, neque in futuro." 
Matth. xii. 32. 

6 " Pater, dimitte illis; non enim sciiint quidfaciunt." Zw/k ,xxiii. 34. 

7 " Sciunt quid faciunt." 

8 " Quomodo obscuratum est aurum, mutatus est color optimus !" 

CHAP, iv.] Gravity of Sin in a Priest. 73 

other sinners." St. John Chrysostom says that the 
Lord is not so much enraged against any sinner as 
against him who, while he shines with the splendor of 
the sacerdotal dignity, insults the divine majesty. 1 
The malice of the sins of a priest is increased by his in 
gratitude to God, by whom he has been so highly ex 
alted. St. Thomas teaches that the grievousness of sin 
increases in proportion to the ingratitude of the sinner. 
"We ourselves," says St. Basil, "are not so indignant at 
any offence as at that which we receive from a friend 
and familiar acquaintance." 5 For this reason priests 
are called by St. Cyril the most intimate friends of God. 3 
What greater exaltation can God give to a man than by 
raising him to the dignity of his own priest ? " Enume 
rate all the honors, all the dignities," says St. Ephrem; 
"the priest surpasses them all." 4 What greater honor, 
what more exalted rank, could God confer upon him 
than that of being his own representative, his coadjutor, 
the sanctifier of souls, and the dispenser of his sacra 
ments ? Priests are called by St. Prosper " Dispensers 
in the royal house." The Lord has chosen the priest 
from among so many men for his own minister to offer 
to him in sacrifice his own very Son. He chose him, says 
the Holy Ghost, out of all men living to offer sacrifice to 
God? He has given him power over the body of Jesus 
Christ, he has placed in his hands the keys of paradise, 
he has raised him above all the kings of the earth, and 
above all the angels in heaven; in a word, he has made 

1 " Nulla re Deus magis offenditur, quam quando peccatores Sacer- 
dotii dignitate praefulgent." In Matth. horn. 41. 

2 " Naturaliter magis indignamur his qui nobis familiarissimi sunt, 
cum in nos peccaverint." G fossa, in I Pet. iv, 

3 "Dei intimi familiares." 

4 " Enumera honores, dignitates; omnium apex est Sacerdos." 
b " Dispensatores regiae domus. 

6 " Ipsum elegit ab omni vivente, offerre sacrificium Deo/ Ecclus. 
xlv. 20. 

74 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

him, as it were, a God on earth: " A God on earth." 1 
What is tJiere that I ought to do more to my vineyard 
that I have not done?* (Here God appears to speak 
only of priests.) How horrible, then, the ingratitude of 
the priest whom God has loved so tenderly, and who 
insults the Lord in his own very house ? What is the 
meaning, says Jeremias, that my beloved hath wrought much 
wickedness in my house ? 3 Hence St. Gregory weeps and 
says, " Alas ! my Lord God, those that should govern 
Thy Church persecute you more than the rest." 4 

It appears, also, that it was of bad priests that God 
complained when he called on heaven and earth to wit 
ness the ingratitude with which he was treated by his 
own children. Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth. 
. . . I have brought up children and exalted them, but they 
have despised me* And who are these children but 
priests who, after being raised by God to such an eleva 
tion, and nourished at his table with his ow r n flesh, dare 
to despise his love and his grace ? Of this he also com 
plained by the mouth of David: If my enemy had reviled 
me I would verily have borne it.* Were my enemy, were 
an idolater, a heretic, or a worldling to offend me, I 
would bear with him, but how can T bear to see myself 
insulted by you, my priest, who are my friend and 
fellow-guest ? But thou, a man of one mind, my guide and 

1 " Deus terrenus." 

2 "Quid est quod debui ultra facere vineae meae, et non feci ?" Is. 
v. 4. 

3 "Quid est, quod dilectus meus, in domo mea, fecit scelera multa ? 
Jer. xi. 15. 

4 " Heu, Domine Deus, quia ipsi sunt in persecuticne tua primi, qui 
videntur in Ecclesia tua gerere principatum." In Convers. S, Pauli, s. I. 

6 Audite, creli, et auribus percipe, terra. . . . filios enutrivi et 
exaltavi; ipsi autem spreverunt me." Is. i. 2, 

6 "Si inimicus maledixjsset mihi, sustinuissem utique, . , . tu vero, 
homo unanimis, dux meus et notus meus, qui simul mecum dukes 
capiebas cibos " Ps. liv. 13. 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 75 

my familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with me. 
The Prophet Jeremias weeps and exclaims: They that 
were fed delicately, . . . they that were brought lip in scarlet, 
have embraced the dung. 1 Oh ! what a misery, what a 
horrible thing, to see the man that fed on celestial food 
and was clad in purple wearing the sordid garment of 
sin, and feeding on filth and dung ! By the word 
croceis the interpreters (resting on the Hebrew text that 
were brought up in scarlet*} understand the purple; and 
priests are said to be honored with the purple on account 
of their regal dignity: You are a chosen nation, a kingly 


Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 

But let us now see the chastisement that awaits the 
sinful priest a chastisement proportioned to the griev- 
ousness of his sin. According to the measure of the sin 
shall the measure also of the stripes be* St. John Chrysostom 
gives up as lost the priest that commits a single mortal 
sin after his elevation to the priesthood. 5 Terrible in 
deed are the threats that the Lord has pronounced, by 
the mouth of Jeremias, against priests who fall into sin. 
For the prophet and the priest are dejiled, and in my house I 
have found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Therefore, 
their way shall be as the slippery way in the dark ; for they 
err and fall therein! What hope of life would you give 
to him who, without light to guide his steps, should 

1 " Qui vescebantur voluptuose, . . . qui nutriebantur in croceis, 
amplexati sunt stercora !" Lam. iv. 5. 

2 " Qui in purpura educati fuerunt." 

3 " Vos autem genus electum, regale Sacerdotium." i Pet. ii. 9. 

4 " Pro mensura peccati erit et plagarum modus." Deiit. xxv. 2. 

5 "Si privatim pecces, nihil tale passurus es; si in Sacerdotio peccas, 
periisti." In Act. Ap. horn. 3. 

6 " Propheta namque et Sacerdos polluti sunt, et in domo mea inveni 
malum eorum, ait Dominus. Idcirco via eorum erit quasi lubricum in 
tenebris; impellentur enim, et corruent in ea." -Jer. xxiii. n. 

76 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

walk on a slippery way along the brink of a precipice, 
and who should from time to time be violently assailed 
by enemies endeavoring to cast him down the precipice ? 
This is the miserable state into which a priest who com 
mits mortal sin has brought himself. 

The slippery way in the dark. By sin the priest loses 
light and becomes blind. // had been better for them not 
to have known the way of justice , than after they had known 
it, to turn back. 1 How much better would it be for the 
priest that falls into sin to have been a poor uninstructed 
peasant, who had never known the law! For, after so 
much knowledge learned from books, from sermons, 
from directors, and after so many illuminations received 
from God, the miserable man, by yielding to sin and 
trampling under foot all the graces that God had be 
stowed upon him, shall make all the lights received 
serve to increase his blindness, and to keep him in the 
state of perdition. " Greater knowledge is followed by 
greater punishment," says St. John Chrysostom. 2 And 
the saint adds: " The sin to which the priest consents 
may be committed by many seculars, but his chastise 
ment shall be far more severe, because his blindness 
shall be far greater than theirs." -He shall receive the 
punishment threatened by the Prophet: That seeing they 
may not see, and hearing may not understand? 

"And this," says the same St. John Chrysostom, "we 
know from experience that a secular after committing 
sin is easily induced to do penance." A secular who 
falls into sin, if he attends a mission, or is present at a 
sermon in which he hears some eternal truth regarding 

1 " Melius erat illis non cognoscere viam justitiae, quam, post agnitio- 
nem, retrorsum converti." "2 Pet. ii. 21. 

2 " Major scientia majoris posna^ fit materia. Propterea Sacerdos, si 
eadem cum subditis peccata committit, non eadem, sed multa acerbiora 
patietur." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 77. 

3 " Ut videntes non videant, et audientes non intelligant." Luke, viii. 
10; Isa. vi, 9. 

4 " Saecularis homo, post peccalum, facile ad poenitentiam venit." 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 77 

the malice of sin, the certainty of death, the rigor of the 
divine judgment, or the pains of hell, easily enters into 
himself and returns to God; "because/ says the saint, 
" these truths are new to him, and fill him with terror." * 
But what impression can the eternal truths and the 
menaces of the holy Scriptures make on a priest that 
has trampled on the grace of God, and on all the lights 
and knowledge that he has received ? " All that is con 
tained in Scripture," continues the holy Doctor, " appears 
to him as something obsolete and worthless, for every 
thing terrible has by use lost its power." 5 Hence he 
concludes that there is nothing more impossible than to 
reform a person who sins with a perfect knowledge of 
the law. 3 

"Great indeed," says St. Jerome, "is the dignity 
of priests, but great also is their perdition, if in the 
priesthood they turn their back on God." 4 "The 
greater the height," says St. Bernard, "to which God 
has raised them, the more precipitous and ruinous shall 
be their fall." He that falls on level ground is seldom 
severely hurt, but the man that falls from a great height 
is said not to fall, but to be precipitated, and therefore 
his fall is mortal. " As when we fall on a plain, we do 
ourselves rarely any harm," says St. Ambrose, " so when 
we fall from a height, we not only fall, but are precipi 
tated, and the fall becomes more dangerous." 6 " Let us 

1 " Quia, quasi novum aliquid audiens, expavescit." 

2 " Omnia enim quae sunt in Scripturis ante oculos ejus inveterata et 
vilia sestimantur; nam quidquid illic terrible est, usu vilescit." 

:! " Nihil autem impossibilius, quam ilium corrigere qui omnia scit." 
Horn. 40. 

4 " Grandis dignitas Sacerdotum; sed grandis ruina eorum, si peccant." 
In Ezech. xliv. 

5 " Ab altiori gradu fit casus gravior." Declam. n. 25. 

6 " Ut levius est de piano corruere, sic gravius est qui de sublimi ce- 
ciderit dignitate; quia ruina quse de alto est, graviori casu colliditur." 
De Dignit. sac. c. 3. 

78 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

who are priests," says St. Jerome, " rejoice at our ele 
vation to so great a height, but let our fear of falling 
be proportioned to our exaltation." It is to the priest 
that the Lord appears to speak by the Prophet Ezechiel, 
when he says, / set thee on the holy mountain of God, and 
thou hast sinned; and I cast thee out from the mountain of 
God and destroyed thee? O priests ! says the Lord, I have 
placed you on my holy mountain, and have made you 
the luminaries of the world: You are the light of the 
world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid? Justly, 
then, has St. Laurence Justinian said that the greater 
the grace that God has bestowed on priests, the more 
severe the chastisement that their sins deserve; and the 
more elevated the state to which he has raised them, the 
more disastrous shall be their fall. 4 He that falls into 
a river sinks deeper in proportion to the height from 
which he has fallen, 5 says Peter de Blois. Beloved 
priest, remember that in elevating you to the sacerdotal 
state God has raised you up to heaven, by making you 
a man no longer earthly, but altogether celestial: If you 
sin, you fall from heaven. Consider, then, how ruinous 
and destructive shall be your fall. " What is higher 
than heaven ?" says St. Peter Chrysologus; " he therefore 
falls from heaven that mingles sin with heavenly func 
tions." Your fall, according to St. Bernard, shall be 
like that of a thunderbolt, which rushes headlong with 
vehement impetuosity. 7 That is, your destruction is 

1 Laetemur ad ascensum, sed timeamus ad lapsum." In Ezech. xliv. 

2 " Posui te in monte sancto Dei, . , . et peccasti; et ejeci te de 
monte Dei, et perdidi te." Ezech, xxviii. 14. 

3 Vos estis lux mundi. Non potest civitas abscondi, supra montem 
posita." Matt. v. 14. 

4 " Quo est gratia cumulatior, et status sublimior, eo casus est gravior, 
et damnabilior culpa. " De Compunct. p. I. 

6 " Altius mergitur, qui de alto cadit." 

6 " Quid altius coelo? De coelo cadit, in coelestibus qui delinquit." 
Serm. 26. 

1 Tanquam fulgur in impetu vehement! dejicieris." Dedam^ n.. 2 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 79 

irreparable. 1 In your unhappy soul is verified the threat 
of the Lord against Capharnaum: And thou, Capharnaum, 
which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to 

Such the chastisement that the priest that falls into 
sin merits on account of his infinite ingratitude to God. 
He owes more gratitude to God than others, because he 
has received greater favors, says St. Gregory. 3 The un 
grateful, as a learned author says, deserve to be deprived 
of all the favors that they have received. 4 Jesus Christ 
has said : To every one that hath, shall be given, and he shall 
abound; but from him that hath not, that also which he 
seemeth to have shall be taken away? Upon those that are 
grateful to God he shall pour his graces more abundant 
ly; but the priest who after so many lights and so many 
Communions turns his back on God, despises all his 
favors, and renounces his grace, shall be justly deprived 
of all. The Lord is liberal to all, but not to the un 
grateful. "Ingratitude," says St. Bernard, "dries up 
the sources of divine favors." ( 

Hence St. Jerome justly says, "There is not in the 
whole world a monster to be compared with a priest in 
the state of sin, for the unfortunate man will not bear 
with correction." 7 And St. John Chrysostom, or the 
author of the "Imperfect Work," writes: "When lay 
persons sin, they easily amend. As for priests, once 

1 " Corruent in ea." Jcr. xxiii. 12. 

2 " Et tu, Capharnaum, usque ad coelum exaltata, usque ad infernum 
demergeris. " Luke, x. 15. 

3 " Cum enim augentur dona, rationes etiam crescunt donorum." In 
Evang. horn. 9. 

4 " Ingratus meretur beneficii subtractionem." 

" Omni enim habenti dabitur, et abundabit; ei awtem qui non habet, 
et quod videtur habere, auferetur ab eo." Matt. xxv. 29. 

6 " Ingratitude exsiccat fontem divinae pietatis." In Cant. s. 51. 

7 " Nulla certe in mundo tarn crudelis bestia, quam mains Sacerdos; 
nam corrigi non patitur." Eusebius, Ep. ad Dam. de morte Hier.. 

So Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

bad, they are incorrigible." To priests that fall into 
sin, we may, with St. Peter Damian, 2 apply in a special 
manner the words of the Apostle: // is impossible for those 
that were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, 
and were made, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and are fallen 
away, to be renewed again to penance? Who has been more 
enlightened than the priest? Who has tasted more fre 
quently the heavenly gifts, and partaken more abundant 
ly of the Holy Ghost? St. Thomas says that the rebel 
angels remained obstinate in sin, because they sinned in 
view of the light; and St. Bernard writes that God shall 
treat the sinful priest in a similar manner, that is, " the 
priest having become an angel of the Lord, must expect 
either the reward or the reprobation of an angel." " Our 
Lord said to St. Bridget: " I see on earth pagans and 
Jews, but I see none so wicked as priests; they are guilty 
of the same sin that Lucifer committed." 5 And let it 
be observed in this place, that, according to Innocent 
III., many things are venial sins in seculars that are 
mortal in ecclesiastics." 

To priests we may also apply what St. Paul says in 
another place: The earth that drinketh in the rain which 
cometh often upon it, .... and bringeth forth thorns and 
briers, is reprobate and very near unto a curse, whose end is 

1 "Laid delinquentes facile emendantur; clerici, si mali fuerint, ine- 
mendabiles sunt." Horn. 43. 

2 Epist. 1. 4, ef. 3- 

3 " Impossible est enim, eos, qui semel sunt illuminati, gustaverunt 
etiam donum coeleste, et participes facti sunt Spiritus Sancti, . . . et 
prolapsi sunt, rursus renovari ad poenitentiam." Heb. vi. 4. 

4 " Angelus Domini factus est; tanquam angelus, aut eligitur, aut re- 
probatur." Declam. n. 24. 

5 " Ego conspicio paganos et Judaeos; sed nullos video deteriores 
quam Sacerdotes: ipsi sunt in eodem peccato quo cecidit Lucifer. "- 
Rev. 1. i, c. 47. 

6 " Multa sunt laicis venialia, quae clericis sunt mortalia." In Consecr, 
Pont. s. i. 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 8 1 

to be burnt. 1 What showers of grace has the priest con 
tinually received from God ! And, after all, he brings 
forth briers and thorns instead of fruit. Miserable 
man ! he is on the point of being reprobated, of receiv 
ing the final malediction, and of being sent in the end, 
after so many favors from God, to burn forever in the 
fire of hell. But what dread has the priest that turns 
his back on God of the fire of hell ? Priests who fall 
into sin lose light, and lose also the fear of God. Be 
hold, the Lord himself assures us of this. If I be a 
master, where is My fear, saith the Lord of Hosts, to you, 
O Priests, that despise My name ? 2 St. Bernard says that 
priests falling from on high remain so immersed in their 
malice, that they forget God, and disregard the divine 
threats to such a degree that the danger of their dam 
nation has no longer any terror for them. 3 

But why should that excite our wonder, since by com 
mitting sin the priest falls from an immense height into 
a deep pit, in which he is bereft of light, and therefore 
despises all things; verifying in himself the words of 
the Wise Man: The wicked man when he is come into the 
depth of sins, contemncth? The wicked man: this wicked 
man is the priest that sins through malice: into the 
depth; by a single mortal sin, the priest sinks to- the 
depth of misery and remains in blindness; contemneth; 
and thus he despises chastisements, admonitions, the 
presence of Jesus Christ who is near him on the altar: 

1 " Terra enim saepe venientem super se bibens imbrem, . . . profer 
ens autem spinas ac tribulos, reproba est, et maledicto proxiina: cujus 
consummatio in combustionem." Hcb. vi. n. 

2 " Si Dominus ego sum, ubi est timor meus? dicit Dominus exerci- 
tuum ad vos, o Sacerdotes, quid despicitis nomen meum !" Mai. i. 6. 

3 " Alto quippe demersi oblivionis somno, ad nullum Dominican com- 
minationis tonitruum expergiscuntur, ut suum periculum expavescant." 
In Cant. s. 77. 

4 " Impius, cum in profundum venerit peccatorum, contemnit."- 
Prov, xviii. 3. 

82 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

he despises all, and blushes not to surpass in malice 
Judas, the betrayer of Jesus Christ. Of this our Lord 
complained to St. Bridget: " Such priests are not my 
priests, but they are real traitors." Yes, real traitors, 
who avail themselves of the celebration of Mass to out 
rage Jesus Christ by sacrilege. 

But what shall be the unhappy end of such priests? 
Behold it: /;/ the land of the saints he hath done wicked 
things, and he shall not see the glory of the Lord? The end 
shall be, first, abandonment of God, and then the fire of 
hell. But, Father, some may say, this language is too 
terrific. Do you, they ask, wish to drive us to despair? 
I answer with St. Augustine, " being myself frightened, 
I frighten others." 1 Then a priest who has offended 
God since his ordination may ask, Is there no hope of 
pardon for me? Yes, there is hope, if he repents and. 
entertains a horror for the evil he has done. Let such 
a priest, then, thank the Lord with his whole heart if 
he, too, finds himself aided by divine grace; but he must 
instantly give himself to that God who calls him. " Let 
us listen to the Lord," says St. Augustine, "while he is 
calling us, lest he may turn a deaf ear to us when he 
judges us." 4 


From this day forward, let us, dearly beloved priests, 
learn to esteem our noble elevation, and regarding our- 

1 " Tales Sacerdotes non sunt mei Sacerdotes, sed veri proditores."- 
Rev. 1. i, c. 47. 

2 " In terra sanctorum iniqua gessit, et non videbit gloriam Domini." 
Isa. xxv i. 10. 

3 " Territus, terreo." Serni. 40, E. B. 

4 " Audiamus ilium, dum rcgat, ne nos postea non audiat, dum judi- 
cat." Scrm. 29, E. B. app. 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 83 

selves as ministers of a God, let us blush to become the 
slaves of sin and of the devil, says St. Peter Damian. 1 

Let us not imitate the folly of seculars that think only 
of the present. // is appointed unto men once to die, and 
after this the judgment? We must all appear at this 
judgment: We must all be manifested before the judgment 
seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of 
the body, according as he hath done? To each of us the 
Judge shall say: Give an account of thy stewardship? That 
is, of your priesthood; how have you exercised it? for 
what end have you exercised it ? Dearly beloved priest, 
were you now to be judged, would you feel satisfied and 
content with the manner in which you have discharged 
your ministry? Or would you not say: When he shall 
examine, what shall I answer him ? 5 When the Lord 
chastises a people, the chastisement begins with the 
priest, for he is the cause of the sins of the people, 
either by his bad example, or by his negligence in at 
tending to their sanctification. Hence the Lord says, 
The time is that judgment should begin at the house of God? 
In the slaughter described by Ezechiel, God wished the 
priests to be the first victims of his vengeance: Begin ye 
at my sanctuary? That is, says Origen, " with the priests." 
A most severe judgment, says the Wise Man, for them that 
bear rule? And unto whom, says Jesus Christ, nmch is 

1 Nobilem necesse est esse Sacerdotem, ut, qui minister est Domini, 
erubescat se servum esse peccati." Ofusc. 25, c. 2. 

2 " Statutum est hominibus semel mori; post hoc autem, judicium.* 
Heb. ix. 27. 

3 " Omnes nos enim manifestari oportet ante tribunal Christi, ut re- 
ferat unusquisque propria corporis, prout gessit." 2 Cor. v. 10. 

4 " Redde rationem vilicationis tuae." Luke, xvi. 2, 

5 "Cum quaesierit, quid respondebo illi?" Job, xxxi. 14. 

6 "Tempus est ut incipiat judicium a domo Dei." I Pet. iv. 17. 

7 " A sanctuario meo incipite." Ezech. ix. 6. 

* "Judicium durissimum, his qui praesunt, fiet." Wisd. vi. 6. 

84 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

given, of him much shall be required. 1 The author of the 
"Imperfect Work" says, "On the day of judgment the 
secular will receive the priestly stole, but the sinful 
priest will be deprived of the priestly dignity, and 
ranked among infidels and hypocrites." 2 Hear ye this, 
O priests! says the Prophet Osee, . . . for there is judg 
ment against you? 

And as the judgment of priests is most rigorous, so 
also shall their damnation be most miserable. With a 
double destruction destroy them, says Jeremias. 4 A Council 
of Paris repeats these words of St. Jerome, already 
cited: " Great is the dignity of priests, but if they hap 
pen to fall into sin, very great will also be their ruin." ! 
And St. John Chrysostom says, " If a priest were to 
commit only the sins of which the simple faithful be 
come guilty, he would incur not a similar but a more 
rigorous chastisement." f It was revealed to St. Bridget 
that priests who are sinners " will find themselves deeper 
in hell than all the other damned." Oh! how great 
the rejoicing of the devils when a priest enters hell ? All 
hell is in confusion to meet the priest who comes. Hell 
below, says Isaias, was in an uproar to meet thee at thy 
coming. . , . All the princes of the earth have risen from 

1 " Omni autem cui multum datum est, multum quaeretur ab eo." 
Luke, xii. 48. 

2 " Laicus, in die judicii, stolam sacerdotalem accipiet; Sacerdos autem 
peccator spoliabitur* dignitate, et erit inter infideles et hypocritas." 
Horn. 40. 

3 " Audite hoc, Sacerdotes: . . . quia vobis judicitim est." Osee, v. i. 

4 " Duplici contritione contere eos." Jer. xvii. 18. 

5 " Grandis dignitas Sacredotum, sed grandis ruina, si peccant." In 
Ezcch. xliv. 

6 "Sacerdos, si eadem cum subditis peccata committit, non eadem, 
sed multo acerbiora patietur." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 77. 

7 " Prae omnibus diabolis, profundius submergentur in infernum." 
Rev. 1. 4, c. 135. 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest. 85 

their thrones. All L he princes of that land of woe rise up 
to give the first place of torment to the damned priest. 
All, continues the prophet, shall answer and say to thee : 
Thou also art wounded as well as we, thou art become like 
unfo tts. 1 O priest, you once ruled over us, you have so 
often made the Incarnate Word descend on the altars, 
you have delivered so many souls from hell, and now 
you have become like us, miserable and tormented as we 
are: Thy pride is brought to hell. Your pride, by which 
you have despised God and your neighbor, has in the 
end brought you to this land of misery, Thy carcass is 
fallen down : under thee shall the moth be strewed, and 
worms shall be thy covering? 1 As a king you shall have a 
royal couch and a purple robe: behold, fire and worms 
shall forever corrode your body and your soul. Oh! 
how shall the devils then scoff at all the Masses, sacra 
ments, and sacred functions of the damned priest! And 
have mocked at her sabbaths? 

Be attentive, dearly beloved priests, for the devils 
tempt one priest more than a hundred seculars; because 
a priest that is lost brings with him many seculars to 
hell. St. Chrysostom says, " To take away the shep 
herds is to scatter the flocks." 4 In a work that is found 
among the works of St. Cyprian we read this very just 
remark: "In war, the combatants endeavor first of all 
to kill the enemy s commanders." 5 St. Jerome adds: 

1 " Infernus subter conturbatus est in occursum adventus tui. . . . 
Omnes principes terrae surrexerunt de soliis suis. . . . Universi re- 
spondebunt, et dicent tibi: Et tu vulneratus es sicut et nos, nostri 
similis effectus es." Isa. xiv. 9, 10. 

2 " Detracta est ad inferos superbia tua, concidit cadaver tuutn; sub 
ter te sternetur tinea, et operimentum tuum erunt vermes." Ibid. u. 

3 " Et deriserunt sabbata ejus." Lam. i. 7. 

" Qui pastorem de medio tulerit, totum gregem dissipat." In r 
Tim. horn. I. 

"Plus duces, quam milites, appetuntur in pugna." Inter op. S. 
Cypr. De SinguL cler. 

86 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

" The devil does not go in search of infidels and those 
that are outside" (that is, who are outside of the sanc 
tuary); u he looks for booty in the Church of Christ, for 
according to Habacuc they are his choice food." 1 To 
the devils, the souls of ecclesiastics are the most de 
licious food. 

[What follows may serve to supply motives of com 
punction in the act of contrition.] 

Dearly beloved priests, the Lord appears to say to 
you what he said to the Jewish people: 

What have I done to thee ? Or in what have I grieved 
thee ? Answer me ? Tell me, what evil have I done you: 
have I not, on the contrary, bestowed many favors upon 
you ? 

/ brought thee out of the land of Egypt. I have drawn 
you out of the world, I have selected you from among 
so many seculars, to make you my priest, my minister, 
my familiar: thou hast^prepared a cross for thy Saviour : 
and you, for a miserable interest, for a vile pleasure, 
have again nailed me to the cross. 

I fed thee with manna in the desert : in the wilderness 
of this earth I have fed you every morning with the 
celestial manna, that is, with my divine flesh, and with 
my blood : and thou hast beaten me with buffets and stripes. 

What more should I have done to thee, and have not done ? 
I have planted thee for my most beautiful vineyard; and 
thou hast proved very bitter to me. I have destined you 
for the vineyard of my delight, planting in you so 
many lights and so many graces, that they might pro 
duce sweet and precious fruits; and you have given me 
only fruits of bitterness. 

I gave thee the royal sceptre. I have made you a king, 
and have exalted you above all the kings of the earth: 

1 " Non quaerit diabolus homines infideles, non eos qui foris sunt; de 
Ecclesia Christi rapere festinat; escae ejus, secundum Habacuc, electae 
sunt." Ep. ad Eustoch. 

CHAP, iv.] Chastisement of the Sinful Priest, 87 

and thou hast given me a crown of thorns, by the bad 
thoughts to which you have consented. 

/ raised thee on high. I have raised you to the dignity of 
my representative, and have given you the keys of heaven ; 
I have, in fine, made you, as it were, a God on earth: 
And thou hast hanged me on the gibbet of the cross, 1 and you 
have despised all my graces, my friendship, nailing me 
again to the cross, etc. 

1 " Quid feci tibi, aut in quo contristavi te? responde mihi. 

Eduxi te de terra ^Egypti: et tu parasti crucem Salvatori tuo. 
Ego te pavi manna per desertum: et tu me cecidisti alapis et 

Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci ? Ego plantavi te vineam 

speciosissimam: et tu facta es mihi nimis amara. 
Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regale: et tu dedisti capiti meo spineam 

Ego te exaltavi: et tu me suspendisti in patibulo crucis." Im- 

properia, sung on Good Friday. 

88 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 



To what the Tepid Priest is Exposed. 

THE Lord commanded St. John in the Apocalypse to 
write to the Bishop of Ephesus the following words: / 
know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience? I know well 
all that you do; I know your labors for my glory; I know 
your patience in the toils of your office. But he adds: 
But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy 
first charity? But I must reprove you for having fallen 
away from your first fervor. But what great evil was 
there in this ? What great evil ? Listen to what our 
Lord adds: Be mindful, therefore, from whence thou art 
fallen; and do penance, and do the first works : or else I come 
to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place? Re- 
member whence you have fallen; do penance, and re 
turn to the first fervor, with which, as my minister, you 
are bound to live, otherwise I will reject you as un 
worthy of the ministry that I have committed to you. 

Is tepidity, then, productive of so much ruin ? Yes, 
it brings with it great ruin, and the greatest evil is, that 
this ruin is not known, and is, therefore, neither avoided 
nor dreaded by the tepid, and especially by priests. The 

1 " Scio opera tua, et laborem, et patientiam tuam." Apoc. ii. 2. 

a " Sed habeo adversum te, quod caritatem tuam primam reliquisti." 
Ib. 4. 

3 Memor esto itaque unde excideris, et age poenitentiam, et prima 
opera fac; sin autem, venio tibi, et movebo candelabrum tuum de loco 
suo." Ib. 5. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 89 

majority of them are shipwrecked on this blind rock of 
tepidity, and therefore many of them are lost. I call it 
a blind rock: because the great danger of perdition to 
which the tepid are exposed consists in this, that their 
tepidity does not allow them to see the great havoc that 
it produces in the soul. Many are unwilling to be 
altogether separated from Jesus Christ; they wish to 
follow him, but they wish to follow him at a distance, 
like St. Peter, who, when the Redeemer was seized in 
the %ax&&\, followed him from afar off. 1 But they that 
act in this manner, shall easily fall into the misfortune 
which befell St. Peter, who, when charged by a servant 
maid with being a disciple of the Redeemer, thrice 
denied Jesus Christ. 

He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and 
little? The interpreter applies this passage to the tepid 
Christian, and says that he shall first lose devotion, and 
shall afterwards fall, 3 passing from venial sins, which 
he has disregarded, to grievous and mortal offences. 
Eusebius Emissenus says that he that is not afraid to 
offend God by venial faults shall scarcely be exempt 
from mortal sins. 4 "By a just judgment," says St. 
Isidore, " the Lord will permit him that despises minor 
transgressions to fall into grievous crimes." Trifling 
maladies, when few, do little injury to health, but when 
they are numerous and frequent, they bring on mortal 
diseases. "You guard against great faults," says St. 
Augustine, " but what do you do in regard to light faults? 
You have shaken the mountain: take care that you be 

1 " Petrus autem sequebatur eum a longe." Matth. xxvi. 58. 
2 " Qui spernit modica, paulatim decidet." Ecclus. xix. i. 

3 " Decidet a pietate, a statu gratiae in statum peccati." 

4 " Difficile est ut non cadere in gravia permittatur, qui minus gravia 
non veretur." Homil. init. quadr. 

5 "Judicio autem divino in reatum nequiorem labuntur, qui dis- 
tringere minora sua facta contemnunt." Sent. \. 2, c. ig. 

90 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

not crushed by a heap of sand." You are careful to 
avoid grievous falls, but you fear not small ones; you 
are not deprived of life by the great rock of any mortal 
sin, but beware, says the saint, lest by a multitude of 
venial sins you be crushed as by a heap of sand. We all 
know that only mortal sin kills the soul, and that venial 
sins, however great their number, cannot rob the soul of 
divine grace. But it is also necessary to understand 
what St. Gregory teaches, that the habit of committing 
light faults without remorse, and without an effort to 
correct them, gradually deprives us of the fear of God; 
and when the fear of God is lost, it is easy to pass from 
venial to mortal sins. 2 St. Dorotheus adds, tha.t by 
despising light faults we expose ourselves to the danger 
of falling into perfect insensibility. 3 He that disregards 
small offences is in danger of general insensibility, so 
that afterwards he shall feel no horror even of mortal 

St. Teresa, as the Roman Rota attests, never fell into 
any mortal sin; but still our Lord showed her the place 
prepared for her in hell, not because she had deserved 
hell, but because, had she not risen from the state of 
tepidity in which she lived, she should in the end have 
lost the grace of God, and should be damned. Hence 
the Apostle says, Give not place to the devil? The devil 
is satisfied when we begin to open the door to him by 
disregarding small faults; for he shall then labor to 
open it perfectly, by leading us into grievous trans 
gressions. " Do not imagine," says Cassian, " that any 

1 " Magna praecavisti! de minutis quid agis? Projecisti molem! 
vide ne arena obruaris." In Ps. xxxix. 

2 "Ut, usu cuncta levigante, nequaquam post committere etiam 
graviora timeamus." Mor. 1. 10, c. 14. 

3 " Periculum est ne in perfectam insensibilitatem deveniamus." 
Doctr. 3. 

4 " Nolite locum dare diabolo." ph. iv. 27. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 91 

one falls at once into ruin." 1 That is, when you hear 
of the fall of a spiritual soul, do not imagine that the 
devil has suddenly precipitated her into sin; for he has 
first brought her into tepidity, and then has cast her 
into the precipice of enmity with God. Hence St. John 
Chrysostom says that he knew many persons adorned 
with all virtues, who afterwards fell into tepidity, and 
from tepidity into an abyss of vice. 2 It is related in the 
Teresian Chronicles, that Sister Anne of the Incarnation 
once saw in hell a person whom she had regarded as a 
saint: on her countenance appeared a multitude of 
small animals, which represented the multitude of de 
fects that she committed and disregarded during life. 
Of these some were heard to say, By us you began; others, 
By us you continued; others, By us you have brought yourself 
to hell. 

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot* says 
our Lord, through St. John, to the Bishop of Laodicea. 
Behold the state of a tepid soul, neither cold nor hot. 
" The tepid person," says Father Menochius in his ex 
position of this passage, " is one that does not dare 
offend God knowingly and willingly, but is one that 
neglects to strive after a more perfect life, and hence 
easily gives himself up to his passions." 4 A tepid priest 
is not manifestly cold, because he does not knowingly 
and deliberately commit mortal sins; but neglecting to 
seek after the perfection to which he is bound by the 

1 " Lapsus quispiam nequaquam subitanea ruina corruisse credendus 
est." Coll. 6, c. 17. 

2 " Novimus multos, omnes virtutes numero habuisse, et tamen, 
negligentia lapses, ad vitiorum barathrum devenisse." In Matth. horn. 

3 " Scio opera tua, quia neque frigidus es, neque calidus." Apoc. 
iii. 15. 

4 " Tepidus est qui non audet Deum mortaliter sciens et volens 
offendere, sed perfectioris vitae studium negligit, unde facile concupi- 
scentiis se committit." In Apoc. iii. 16. 

92 Material for Sermons. [PARTI 

obligations of his state, he makes little of venial sins, he 
commits many of them every day without scruple, by 
lies, by intemperance in eating and drinking, by im 
precations, by distraction at the Office and Mass, by de 
tractions, by jests opposed to modesty: he leads a life 
of dissipation in the midst of worldly business and 
amusements; he cherishes dangerous desires and attach 
ments; full of vainglory, of human respect and self- 
esteem, he cannot bear a contradiction or a disrespectful 
word; he neglects mental prayer, and is destitute of 
piety. Father Alvarez de Paz says that the defects and 
faults of a tepid soul are " like those light indispositions 
that do not cause death, but that weaken the body in 
such a manner that a grave malady cannot supervene 
without destroying the body which has no longer the 
power of resisting." The tepid Christian is like a sick 
man who has labored under many light maladies, which, 
because they are incessant, reduce him to such a state 
of debility, that as soon as he is attacked by any serious 
disease, that is, by a strong temptation, he has not 
strength to resist, and falls, but falls with greater ruin. 

Hence the Lord continues to address the tepid bishop, 
saying, / would thou wert cold or hot, but because thou art 
lukewarm, I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth? Let 
him that finds himself miserably fallen into the state of 
tepidity, consider these words and tremble. 

/ would that thou wert cold! Better, says the Lord, 
that you were cold, that is, deprived of my grace, for 
then there should be greater reason to hope for your re 
covery from so miserable a state; but by remaining in 

1 " Sunt velut irremissae aegrotatiunculae, quae vitam quidem non dis- 
solvunt, sed ita corpus extenuant, ut accedente aliquo gravi morbo 
statim corpus, vires non habens resistendi, succumbat." De Perf. 1. 
5, p. 2, c. 1 6. 

2 " Utinam frigidus esses, aut calidus! sed quia tepidus es, et nee 
frigidus nee calidus, incipiam te evomere ex ore meo." 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 93 

it, you shall be exposed to greater danger of rushing 
into grievous sins without any hope of ever emerging 
from them. " Although he that is cold," says Cornelius 
a Lapide, " is worse than he that is tepid, yet the con 
dition of the tepid is worse, since the danger of falling 
is greater, without any hope of recovery." " St. Bernard 
says that it is easier to convert a wicked layman than a 
tepid ecclesiastic. Pereira adds, that it is more easy to 
bring an infidel to the faith, than to renew a tepid 
Christian in the spirit of fervor. 2 And Cassian has said 
that he saw many sinners consecrate themselves to God 
with their whole heart, but that he knew no one that 
had risen from tepidity to fervor. 3 St. Gregory holds 
out hopes to a sinner not yet converted, but he despairs 
of him who, after having repented, and given himself to 
God with fervor, falls into tepidity. Beholds his words: 
" However tepid any one may be, there is always a hope 
that sooner or later his fervor will be reanimated; but 
of any one that falls little by little from fervor into 
tepidity, we must expect nothing. In fact, we may 
count on a sinner for the grace of conversion, but if 
after conversion he becomes tepid, we must despair of 
his return." 4 

In a word, tepidity is a desperate and almost incurable 
evil. For in order to be able to avoid danger it is 
necessary to know it. Now the tepid, when they have 
fallen into that miserable state of darkness, do not even 

1 " Licet frigidus sit pejor tepido, tamen pejor est status tepidi, quia 
tepidus est in majori periculo ruendi sine spe resurgendi." In Apoc. 
iii. 1 6. 

2 " Facilius enim est quemlibet paganum ad fidem Christi adducere, 
quam talem aliquem a suo torpore ad spiritus fervorem revocare." 

3 " Frequenter vidimus de frigidis ad spiritalem pervenire fervorem, 
de tepidis omnino non vidimus." Coll. 4, c. 19. 

4 " Sicut ante teporem frigus sub spe est, ita tepor in desperatione- 
qui enim adhuc in peccatis est, conversionis fiduciam non amittit; qui 
vero post conversionem tepuit, et spem, quae esse potuit de peccatore, 
subtraxit," Past, p. 3, c. I, a dm. 35. 

94 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

know their danger. Tepidity is like a hectic fever that 
is scarcely perceived. The tepid man does not see even 
habitual defects. " Grievous faults," says St. Gregory, 
" because they are more easily observed, are more readily 
corrected; but he who disregards light defects con 
tinues to commit them, and thus by the habit of de 
spising minor transgressions he shall soon despise 
grievous sins." Besides, mortal sin always excites a 
certain horror even in habitual sinners, but to the tepid, 
his imperfections, inordinate attachments, dissipations, 
love of pleasure or of self-esteem, cause no horror. 
These little faults are the more dangerous because they 
imperceptibly dispose him to ruin. " Great sins," says 
Father Alvarez de Paz, " are less dangerous for the just 
than these little faults, because the hideous aspect of 
the former frightens them, while the others insensibly 
conduct to ruin." 

Hence St. John Chrysostom has written that cele 
brated sentence, that we ought in a certain manner to 
be more careful to avoid light faults than grievous 
sins: "We must use more care to avoid little sins than 
to avoid great sins; for the latter are already opposed 
by our nature, and because the former, being small, 
make us more indolent in our struggles. Since we dis 
regard them, the soul cannot raise itself so generously as 
to repel them: hence great sins flow from small sins." 3 

1 " Major enim quo citius quia sit culpa agnoscitur, eo etiam citius 
emendatur; minor vero, dum quasi nulla creditur, eo pejus quo et 
securius in usu retinetur. Unde fit plerumque ut mens, assueta malis 
levibus, nee graviora perhorrescat, et in majoribus contemnat." Past. 
p. 3, c. I, adm. 34. 

8 " Magna peccata eo justis minus periculosa sunt, quod aspectum 
satis tetrum exhorrent; at minima periculosiora videntur, quia latenter 
ad ruinam disponunt." De Pcrf. 1. 5, p. 2, c. 16. 

3 " Non tanto studio magna peccata esse vitanda, quam parva: ilia 
enim natura adversatur; haec autem, quia parva sunt, desides reddunt. 
Dum contemnuntur, non potest ad eorum expulsionem animus gene- 
rose insurgere; unde cito ex parvis maxima fiunt." In Matth. horn. 87, 

CH. v,] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 95 

The reason, then, assigned by the saint is, that mortal 
sins excite a natural horror, but light faults are disre 
garded, and therefore they soon become grievous. And 
the greatest evil is, that small defects that are disre 
garded render the soul more careless about her spirit 
ual interests, and therefore, because she has been accus 
tomed to despise slight offences, they lead her to think 
little of grievous transgressions. In the Canticles the 
Lord says. Catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines, for 
our vineyard hath flourished? Mark the word foxes: he 
does not tell us to catch the lions and tigers, but the 
foxes. These foxes destroy the vine; they make a 
multitude of dens, and thus dry up the roots, that is, 
devotion and good desires, which are the roots of spiri 
tual life. He also says little. Why does he tells us to 
catch the little and not the large foxes ? Because the 
little foxes excite less terror, but often do.more mischief 
than the large ones. For, as Father Alvarez says, small 
faults when disregarded impede the infusion of divine 
graces, and thus the soul remains barren, and is finally 
lost. 2 The Holy Ghost adds: for our vineyard hath 
flourished. How great the evil of venial faults when 
multiplied and not abhorred ? They eat the flowers, 
that is, they destroy the good desires of advancing in 
perfection, and when these desires fail, the soul shall 
always go backward until she finds herself fallen into a 
precipice from which it will be difficult to rescue her. 

/ will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth? Let us con 
clude the exposition of this text of the Apocalypse. A 

"Capita nobis vulpes parvulas quse demoliuntur vineas; nam vinea 
nostra floruit." Cant. ii. 15. 

" Culpae leves et imperfectiones vulpes parvulse sunt, in quibus 
nihil nimisnoxium aspicimus; sed hae vineam, id est, animam demoli 
untur, quia earn sterilem faciunt, dum pluviam auxilii coelestis impedi- 
unt." De Pcrf. 1. 5, p. 2, c. 16. 

"Sed, quia tepidus es, incipiam te evomere ex ore 
iii. 16. 

g6 Material for Sermons. IPART i. 

draught that is cold or hot is taken with facility, but 
when tepid it is taken with great difficulty, because it 
provokes vomiting. This precisely is what the Lord 
has threatened against the tepid soul. / will begin to 
vomit thee out of My mouth. In expounding this passage 
Menochius says, " God begins to vomit forth the tepid 
man, because the latter as long as he perseveres in his 
tepidity creates in Him nausea, until finally at his death 
the Lord vomits him entirely, and he is forever separated 
from Christ. ] The tepid are in danger of being vom 
ited forth by God, that is, of being abandoned without 
hope of remedy. This is what the Lord means by vom 
iting the soul out of his mouth; for all have a great 
horror of taking back what they vomit. " For just as," 
says Cornelius a Lapide, " one refuses to take back what 
one has rejected, so God has a horror of the tepid whom 
he has vomited forth." How does God begin to vomit 
forth the tepid priest ? He ceases to give him any 
longer these loving calls (this precisely means to be 
vomited forth from the mouth of God), these spiritual 
consolations, these good desires. In fine, he shall be de 
prived of spiritual unction. The unhappy man will go 
to meditation, but shall make it with great tediousness, 
dissipation, and unwillingness. Hence he shall by 
degrees begin to omit it, and thus shall cease to recom 
mend himself to God by petitions for his graces, and 
by neglecting to ask the divine graces he shall always 
become more poor, and shall go from bad to worse. He 
shall say Mass and the Office, but they shall be a source 
of demerit rather than of merit. He shall perform all 
his functions with difficulty and by force, or without 

1 " Porro tepidus incipit evomi, cum, permanens in tepore suo, Deo 
nauseam movere incipit, donee tandem omnino in morte sua evomatur, 
et a Christo in seternum separetur." 

2 "Vomitus significat Deum exsecrari tepidos, sicut exsecramur icl 
quod os evomuit." /;/ Apoc. iii. 16. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 97 

devotion. You shall, says the Lord, be anointed all over 
with oil, but you shall remain without unction. 1 The 
Mass, the divine Office, preaching, hearing confessions, 
assisting the dying, attending at funerals, are exercises 
that should excite new fervor; but after all these func 
tions you shall remain dry, without peace, dissipated, 
agitated by a thousand temptations. I will begin to vomit 
t/iee out of My mouth. Behold how God begins to vomit 
you out of his mouth. 


A Priest cannot be Satisfied with Avoiding Grievous Sins. 

Some priests may say it is enough for me to avoid 
mortal sins and to save my soul. No, answers St. 
Augustine, you that are a priest, and therefore obliged 
to walk in the narrow way of perfection, shall not even 
save your soul by treading the broad way of tepidity- 
" When you say it is enough, you are lost." 1 St. Greg 
ory says that they that are to be saved as saints, and 
wish to be saved as imperfect souls, shall not be saved. 
And this our Lord one day gave Blessed Angela of 
Foligno to understand: "They that are enlightened by 
me to walk in the way of perfection, and through tepid 
ity wish to tread in the ordinary path, shall be aban 
doned by me." : It is certain, as we have seen in the 
above, 4 that a priest is bound to be holy, as well on 
account of his dignity as the familiar and minister of 
God, as on account of his office of offering to God the 
sacrifice of the Mass, of mediator for the people before 
the divine Majesty, and of sanctifier of souls by means of 
the sacraments. The reason is that he may walk in the 
way of perfection, that God loads him with so many 

1 " Calcabis olivam, et non ungeris oleo." Mich, vi. 15. 

2 "Si dixeris: Sufficit; et periisti." Serm. 169, E. B* 

3 Vision, c. 51. 

4 Chap. III. 


98 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

graces and special helps. Hence, when he exercises 
his ministry with negligence, amid defects and faults, 
without even detesting them, God pronounces a male 
diction against him. Cursed be he that doth the work of the 
Lord deceitfully. 1 This malediction consists in abandon 
ment by God. "God," writes St. Augustine, "is ac 
customed to abandon the negligent." 2 The Lord, says 
the saint, usually abandons souls favored by his special 
graces, when after all his gifts they neglect to live 
according to the perfection to which they are called. 
God, observes a certain author, wishes to be served by 
his priests with the fervor with which the seraphim serve 
him in heaven; otherwise he will withdraw his graces 
and permit them to sleep in tepidity, and thence to fall, 
first into the precipice of sin and afterwards into hell. 3 
The tepid priest, weighed down by so many venial sins 
and by so many inordinate attachments, remains, as it 
were, in a state of insensibility. Hence the graces re 
ceived and the obligations of the priesthood make but 
little impression upon him, and therefore the Lord shall 
justly withhold the abundant helps that are morally 
necessary for the fulfilment of the obligations of his 
state; thus he shall go from bad to worse, and with his 
defects his blindness shall increase. Perhaps God is 
bound to make his graces abound in those that are par 
simonious and ungenerous to him ? No, says the Apos 
tle, he who sows little shall reap but little. 4 

The Lord has declared that to the grateful that pre 
serve his graces he will multiply his favors, but from the 
ungrateful he shall take away the gifts that had been 
bestowed upon them. For to every one that hath shall be 

1 " Maled ictus, qui facit opus Domini fraudulenter." Jer. xlviii. 10. 

2 " Negligentes Deus deserere consuevit." In Ps. cxviii. s. 10. 

3 " Deus vult a seraphim s ministrari; tepido gratiam suam subtrahit, 
sinitque eum dormire, itaque ruere in barathrum." 

4 " Qui parce seminal, parce et metet." 2. Cor. ix. 6. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 99 

given, and he shall abound j but from him that hath not, that 
also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. 1 Besides, 
St. Matthew says that when the master receives no fruit 
from the vineyard, he takes it away from the husband 
men to whom he had given it, and after punishing them 
consigns it to others. He will bring those evil men to an 
evil end, and will let out His vineyard to other husbandmen, that 
shall render Him fruit in due season? He afterwards adds : 
Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken 
from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits 
thereof? That is, God shall take out of life the priest to 
whom he gave the care of his kingdom, or of procuring 
his glory, and shall intrust his interests to others who 
will be grateful for his favors and faithful to his graces. 
Hence it happens that from so many sacrifices, so 
many Communions, and so many prayers offered in the 
Office and in the Mass, many priests draw little or no 
fruit. You have sowed much, says the Prophet Aggeus, 
and brought in little, . . . and he that earned wages put them 
into a bag with holes? Such the tepid priest ! He lays up 
all his spiritual exercises in a bag with holes ; thus no 
merit remains, but on the contrary, in consequence of 
committing many defects in the performance of these 
exercises, he always renders himself more deserving of 
chastisement. The tepid priest is not far from perdition. 
The heart of a priest should, as Peter de Blois says, be the 
altar on which the fire of divine love always burns. But 
what proof of burning love for God does the priest give 
who is content with avoiding mortal sin, but takes no 

"Omni enim habenti dabitur, et abundabit; ei autem qui non habet, 
et quod videtur habere, auferetur ab eo." Matth. xxv. 29. 

2 " Malos male perdet, et vineam suam locabit aliis agricolis, qui 
reddant ei fructum temporibus suis." Matth. xxi. 41. 

"Ideo dico vobis quia auferetur a vobis regnum Dei, et dabitur 
genti facienti fructus ejus." Ibid. 43. 

" Seminastis multum, et intulistis parum; . . . et qui mercedes 
congregavit, misit eas in sacculum pertusum." Agg. i. 6. 

IOO Material for Sermons. IPART i. 

trouble to abstain from displeasing God by light faults. 
"It is a sign of a very tepid love," says Father Alvarez, 
"to restrict the proofs of love only to the omission of 
very grave faults against God, and to be troubled very 
little about offending him with little faults." 1 

To become a good priest, a man requires not the 
common graces, nor a small number of graces, but 
special and abundant helps. But how can God be 
generous and abundant in his graces to him who is 
appointed to serve him, and who serves him so badly? 
St. Ignatius of Loyola sent one day for a lay brother 
who led a very tepid life, and said to him: " Tell me, my 
brother, for what purpose have you entered religion ?" 
The lay brother answered, " To serve God." " And is it 
thus," replied the saint, "you serve him ? Had you told 
me that you came to serve a cardinal or an earthly 
prince, you should be more deserving of compassion; 
but you tell me that you have come to serve God, and 
do you serve him so badly ?" Every priest enters into 
the court, not among the servants, but among the famil 
iars of God, who have continually to treat confidentially 
with him on matters of the utmost importance to his 
glory. Hence a tepid priest dishonors God more than 
he honors him; for by his negligent and imperfect life 
he shows that he regards God unworthy of being served 
and loved with greater fervor. He declares that in 
pleasing God he does not find that felicity which is 
sufficient to make the soul perfectly content; he declares 
that his divine Majesty is unworthy of the love that 
obliges us to prefer his glory to all self-gratification. 

"Signum est amoris satis tepidi, velle amatum in solis rebus gravi- 
bus non offendere, et in aliis, quae non tanta severitate praecipit, ejus 
voluntatem procaciter violate." De Exterm. mali, 1. i, c. 12. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 101 



Be attentive, dearly beloved priests; let us tremble 
lest all tti grandeurs and honors by which God has 
raised us to such an elevation among men should only 
terminate in our eternal damnation. St. Bernard says 
that the solicitude of the devils for our destruction 
should make us solicitous in laboring for salvation. 1 
Oh ! how active are our enemies in seeking the perdi 
tion of a priest. They desire the fall of one priest more 
ardently than that of a hundred seculars; as well be 
cause the victory over a priest is a far greater triumph 
than a victory over a layman, as because a priest that 
falls brings many others with him to perdition. But as 
flies avoid boiling water and run to that which is tepid, 
so the devils do not tempt the fervent as violently as 
they tempt the tepid priest, whom they often succeed in 
bringing from tepidity into the state of mortal sin. 
Cornelius a Lapide says that the tepid when assailed by 
any strong temptation are in great danger of yielding 
to temptations, because they have but little strength to 
resist; hence it is that in so many occasions of danger 
they often fall into mortal sin. 2 

It is necessary then to labor to avoid faults that are 
wilfully and deliberately committed. It cannot be de 
nied that, except Jesus Christ and the divine Mother, 
who by a singular privilege have been free from all 
stain of sin, all other men, even the saints, have not 
been exempt at least from venial sins. The heavens are 

" Hostium malitia, qua tarn solliciti sunt in nostram perditionem, 
nos quoque sollicitos facial, ut in timore et tremore ipsorum nostram 
salutem operemur." De S. Andrea, s. 2. 

" In magno versatur periculo, saepeque, inter tot occasiones quibus 
plena est haec vita, in mortale prolabitur." In Apoc. iii. 15. 

IO2 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

not pure in his sight^ says Job. St. James says, In many 
things we all offend? Thus every child of Adam must, as 
St. Leo has written, be defiled with the mire of this 
earth. 3 But it is necessary to attend to what the Wise 
Man says on this subject: For a just man shall fall seven 
times, and shall rise again* He that falls through human 
frailty, without a full knowledge of the malice of the 
act, and without a deliberate consent, rises easily: shall 
fall and rise again. But how can he rise who knows his 
defects, commits them deliberately, and instead of de 
testing them, takes complacency in them ? 

If we commit faults, says St. Augustine, let us at 
least confess and detest them, and God will pardon 
them . 5 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to for 
give us otir sins* To obtain the remission of venial faults, 
Louis de Blois says that it is enough to confess them in 
general. 7 And in another place he writes 8 that such 
sins are more easily cancelled by turning to God with 
humility and love than by stopping to dwell upon them 
with too much fear. St. Francis de Sales also has 
written that as the daily faults of spiritual souls are in- 
deliberately committed, so they are indeliberately taken 
away. He meant to say what St. Thomas teaches, that 
for the remission of venial sins " it is sufficient to detest 
them either explicitly or even implicitly, for example, 

1 " Coeli non sunt mundi in conspectu ejus." Job, xv. 15. 
* "In multis enim offendimus omnes." James, iii. 2. 

3 Necesse est de mundano pulvere etiam religiosa corda sordcscere." 
DC Quadr. s. 4. 

4 "Septies enim cadet Justus, et resurget." Frov. xxiv. 16. 

5 " Et si non sumus sine peccatis, oderimus tamen ea." Sertn. 181, 
E. B. 

6 "Si confiteamur peccata nostra, fidelis est et . Justus, ut remittat 
nobis peccata nostra, et emundet nos ab omni iniquitate." i John, i. 9. 

1 " Sane tales culpas generaliter exposuisse satis est." C&nsol. 
pusill. c. i , 4. 

8 Brev. Reg. tyr. sf>. 4. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 103 

by a fervent act of the love of God." The holy Doctor 
then says: "The remission of venial sins is brought 
about in three ways: i. By infusion of divine grace; in 
this way by means of the Holy Eucharist and the other 
sacraments such sins are remitted; 2. By acts that in 
clude a movement of detestation, and thus by a general 
confession of sins, by striking the breast, by reciting an 
Our Father , we obtain the remission of such sins; 3. By 
every act of religion towards God and the things of 
God, such as the receiving of the blessing from a bishop, 
to take holy water, to pray in a consecrated church." 2 
Speaking of the holy Communion, St. Bernardine of 
Sienna says: "It may happen that after Communion 
the soul finds itself so absorbed in God that all venial 
sins disappear before the fervor of its devotion." : 

The Venerable Louis da Ponte used to say: "I have 
committed many faults, but I have never made peace 
with my faults. Many make peace with their defects, 
and this shall cause their ruin." St. Bernard says that 
as long as a person detests his imperfections, there is 
reason to hope that he shall return to the straight path; 

1 " Sufficit actus quo aliquis detestatur peccatum veniale vel explicite 
vel implicite, sicut cum aliquis ferventer movetur ad Deum." P. 3, q. 
87, a. 3. 

2 " Triplici ratione, aliqua causant remissionem venialium: i, per 
infusionem gratiae; et hoc modo, per Eucharistiam et omnia Sacramenta, 
venialia remittuntur; 2, in quantum sunt cum aliquo motu detestationis; 
et hoc modo, confessio generalis, tunsio pectoris, et Oratio Dominica, 
operantur ad remissionem; 3, in quantum sunt cum aliquo motu reve- 
rentiae in Deum et ad res divinas; et hoc modo, benedictio episcopalis, 
aspersio aquae benedictse, oratio in ecclesia dedicata, et si aliqua sunt 
hujusmodi, operantur ad remissionem venialium/ S. TJiomas, loco 

" Contingere potest quod tanta devotione mens, per sumptionem 
Sacramenti, in Domino absorbeatur, quod ab omnibus venialibus ex- 
purgetur." DC Chr. Dom. s. 12, a. 2, c. i. 

IO4 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

but when he commits faults knowingly and deliberately, 
and when the commission of them excites neither fear 
nor remorse, they shall by degrees bring him to ruin. 
Dying flies, says the Holy Ghost, spoil the sweetness of the 
ointment. 1 Dying flies are the faults that are committed 
but not detested; for they remain dead in the soul. 
"When a fly," says Denis the Carthusian, "falls into a 
sweet-smelling ointment and remains therein, it will 
injure the ointment and its good odor. If we apply this 
to the spiritual life, the dead flies represent our idle 
thoughts, illicit affections, voluntary distractions things 
that spoil the sweetness of the ointment, that is, the 
sweetness attached to the exercises of piety." 

St. Bernard 3 writes, that to say this is a light sin is 
not a great evil, but to commit it, and take complacency 
in it, is an evil of great moment, and shall, according to 
the words of St. Luke, be severely chastised by God. 
And that servant that knew the will of his Lord, and did not 
according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he 
that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten 
with few stripes." It is true that even spiritual persons 
are not free from light transgressions; "but," says 
Father Alvarez, " they daily diminish the number and 
grievousness of their faults, and afterwards efface them 
by acts of divine love." Whoever acts in this manner 
shall acquire sanctity: neither shall his defects hinder 

1 " Muscae morientes perdunt suavitatem unguenti." Ecdes. x. I. 

2 " Dum musca cadit in unguentum, manendo in illo, destruit ejus 
valorem atque odorem. Spiritualiter, muscre morientes sunt cogita- 
tiones vanae, affectiones illicitae, distractiones morosae, quoe perdunt 
suavitatem unguenti, id est, dulcedinem spiritualium exercitiorum." 

3 In Convcrs. S. Pattli, s. I. 

4 " Qui cognovit voluntatem domini sui, et non praeparavit, et non 
fecit secundum voluntatem ejus, vapulabit multis; qui autem non cog 
novit, et fecit digna plagis, vapulabit paucis." Ltike, xii. 47. 

CH. v.] Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity. 105 

him from tending to perfection. Hence Louis de Blois 
tells us not to be disheartened by these little faults, be 
cause we have several means of expiating them: "If 
every day we fall several times, it will depend entirely 
on us to employ every day the means of atoning for our 
faults." But how can he that entertains an attachment 
for any earthly good, and voluntarily falls and relapses 
into that attachment without any wish to get rid of it, 
advance in the way of God ? The bird that escapes 
from the net instantly takes flight; but as long as it is 
held even by a slender thread, it remains on the earth. 
" Every little thread of attachment to this world," says 
St. John of the Cross, "impedes the spiritual progress 
of the soul." 

Let us, then, guard against falling into this miserable 
state of tepidity; for, according to what has been already 
said, to raise a priest from such a state a most powerful 
grace is necessary. But what reason have we to think 
that God will give such a grace to priests that provoke 
him to vomit them out of his mouth ? Some person 
that has fallen into this miserable state may ask, Is 
there, then, no hope for me? There is ground of hope 
in the mercy and power of God. The things that are im 
possible with men, are possible with God? It is impossible 
for the tepid priest to rise, but to raise him up is not 
impossible to God. However, a desire, at least, is neces 
sary on our part. How can he that does not even desire 
to rise hope for the divine aid ? Let him that has not 
even this desire ask it of God. If we pray, and perse 
vere in prayer, the Lord shall grant both the desire and 
the grace to rise. Ask, and you shall receive? God has 

1 " Quemadmodum singulis diebus in multis offendimus, ita quotidia- 
nas expiationes habemus." Farad, an. p. i, c. 3. 

* " Quae impossibilia sunt apud homines, possibilia sunt apud Deum." 
Luke, xviii. 27. 

3 " Petite, et accipietis." 

1 06 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

promised, and his promise cannot fail. Let us then 
pray, and say with St Augustine, " Let my merit be 
Thy mercy." Lord, I have no claim or merit to be 
heard by you, but, O eternal Father, your mercy and 
the merits of Jesus Christ, are my merits. To have 
recourse to the most holy Virgin is also a great means 
of rising from a state of tepidity. 

1 " Meritum meum, misericordia tua." 

CHAP, vij The Sin of Incontinence. 107 



Necessity of Purity in the Priest. 

INCONTINENCE is called by St. Basil of Seleucia 1 a liv 
ing plague, and by St. Bernardine of Sienna, the most 
noxious of all sins; " a terrible gnawing worm." 2 Be 
cause, as St. Bonaventure says, impurity destroys the 
germs of all virtues. 3 Hence St. Ambrose calls it the 
hot-house and mother of all vices. 4 For it brings with 
it hatred, thefts, sacrileges, and other similar vices. 
Hence St. Remigius has justly said: "With the excep 
tion of those that die in childhood, most men will be 
damned on account of this vice." E And Father Paul 
Segneri says that as pride has filled hell with angels, so 
impurity has filled it with men. In other vices the devil 
fishes with the hook, in this he fishes with the net; so 
that by incontinence he gains more for hell than by all 
other sins. On the other hand, God has inflicted the 
severest chastisement on the world, sending deluges of 
water and fire from heaven, in punishment of the sin of 

Chastity is a most beautiful gem; but, as St. Athana-, 

1 Or at. 5. 

2 " Vermis quo nullus nocentior." T. II. s. 52, a. 3, c. 2. 

3 " Luxuria omnium virtutum eradicat germina," 

4 "Luxuria seminarium et origo vitiorum est." St. Thorn, de Vill. 
De S. Ildeph. cone. 2. 

5 " Demptis parvulis, ex adultis pauci, propter hoc vitium, salvantur." 
// Crist, istr. p. I, rag. 24. 

1 08 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

sius says, it is a gem found by few on this earth. 1 But 
if this gem is suitable for seculars, it is absolutely neces 
sary for ecclesiastics. Among the virtues that St. Paul 
prescribes to Timothy, he recommended chastity in a 
special manner: Keep thyself chaste? Origen says that 
chastity is the first virtue with which a priest that goes 
to the altar should be adorned. 3 Clement of Alexandria 
has written that only they that lead a chaste life are 
and can be called priests. 4 Hence, then, as purity con 
stitutes priests, so, on the other hand, incontinence robs 
them, as it were, of their dignity, says St. Isidore. 

Hence the holy Church has always endeavored by so 
many Councils, laws, and admonitions to guard with 
jealousy the chastity of her priests. Innocent III. made 
the following ordinance: " No one is to be allowed to be 
ordained priest unless he is a virgin or his chastity has 
been proved. " He also commanded that the incon 
tinent priest should be excluded " from all ecclesias 
tical dignities." 7 St. Gregory ordained: " He that has 
fallen into a carnal sin after ordination should be de 
prived so far of his office, that he be not permitted to 
perform any function at the altar." Besides, he or 
dained, 9 that if a priest committed a sin against purity, 
he should do penance for ten years. For the first three 

1 "Gemma pretiosissima, a paucis inventa." De Virginit. 

2 " Teipsum castum custodi." i Tim. v. 22. 

3 "Ante omnia Sacerdos, qui divinis assistit altaribus, castitate debit 
accingi." In Levit. horn. 4. 

4 "Soli qui puram agunt vitam, sunt Dei Sacerdotes." Strom. 1. 4. 

" Si pudicitia Sacerdotes creat, libido Sacerdotibus dignitatem abro- 
gat."f>ist. 1. 3, ep. 75- 

" Nemo ad sacrum Ordinem permittatur accedere, nisi aut virgo aut 
probatae castitatis existat." Cap. A Mtdtis. DC cct. et qua I. ord. 
7 " Ab omnium graduum dignitate." 

"Qui, post acceptum sacrum Ordinem, lapsus in peccatum carnis 
fuerit, sacro Ordine ita careat, ut ad altaris ministerium ulterius non 
accedat." Cap. Pervenit. dist. 50. 
9 Cap. presbyter, dht. 82. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. 109 

months he should sleep on the ground, remain in soli 
tude, have no intercourse with any person, and should 
be deprived of Communion. He should then fast every 
day for a year and a half on bread and water, and for 
the remainder of the ten years he should continue to 
fast on bread and water only on three days in the week. 
In a word, the Church regards as a monster the priest 
that does not lead a life of chastity. 

Malice of Impurity in the Priest. 

Let us, in the first place, examine the malice of the sin 
of a priest who violates chastity. A priest is the temple 
of God, as well by the vow of chastity as by the sacred 
unction by which he was consecrated to God. He that 
hath anointed us in God, who also hath sealed us. 1 Such is 
the language of St. Paul, speaking of himself and of his 
associates in the ministry. Hence Cardinal Hugo has 
said: "The priest should not pollute the sanctuary of 
the Lord, because the oil of the holy unction is poured 
out upon him." 2 The body, then, of the priest is the 
sanctuary of the Lord. " Keep thyself chaste," says St. 
Ignatius, Martyr, " as a gift of God and the temple of the 
Holy Ghost. " : St. Peter Damian says that the priest 
that denies his body by impurity violates the temple of 
God. He then adds: " Do not change the vessels conse 
crated to God into vessels of contumely." What would 
you say of the man that should use a consecrated 
chalice at table? Speaking of priests, Innocent II. has 

1 " Unxit nos Deus, qui et signavit nos." 2 Cor. i. 21. 

2 " Sacerdos ne polluat sanctuarium Domini; quia oleum sanctae unc- 
tionis super eum est." 

3 " Teipsum castum custodi, ut domum Dei, templum Christi." Ep. 
ad Heron. Diac. 

4 " Nonne templum Deiviolant? Nolite vasa Deo sacrata in vasa 
contumeliae vertere." Opusc. 18, d. 2, c. 47. 

iio Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

said: " Since they should be the temples of the sanctu 
aries of the Holy Ghost, they are disgraced if they be 
come addicted to impurity." How horrible to see a 
priest that should send forth in every direction the light 
and odor of purity, become sordid, fetid, and polluted 
with sins of the flesh ? The sow that was washed to her 
wallowing in the mire? Hence Clement of Alexandria 
has written that an unchaste priest, as far as in him lies, 
contaminates God himself, who dwells within him. 3 Of 
this God himself complains by the mouth of his prophet: 
Her priests have despised My law, and have despised My sanc 
tuaries, . . . and I was profaned in the midst of them * Alas! 
says the Lord, by the incontinence of my priest, I, too, 
am defiled: by violating chastity he pollutes my sanc 
tuary, that is, his body which I have consecrated, and in 
which I often come to dwell. It was this St. Jerome 
meant when he said: "We defile the body of Christ 
whenever we approach the altar unworthily.-" 5 

Besides, the priest on the altar offers to God in sacri 
fice the immaculate Lamb; that is, the very Son of God. 
On this account, says St. Jerome, the priest should be 
so chaste as not only to abstain from every impure 
action, but also to avoid every indecent glance. 6 St. 
John^ Chrysostom likewise has written that a priest 
should have purity which would make him fit to stand 

1 "Cum ipsi templum et sacrarium Spiritus Sanctl debeant esse, in- 
dignum est eos immunditiis deservire." Cap. Decernimus. dist. 28. 

2 " Sus lota in volutabro luti !" 2 Pet. ii. 22. 

" Deum in ipsis habitantem corrumpunt, quantum in se est, et viti- 
orum suorum conjunctione poluunt." -Ptrdctg. 1. 2, c. 10. 

4 " Sacerdotes ejus contempserunt legem meam, et polluerunt sanc- 
tuaria mea; . . . et coinquinabor in medio eorum." Ezech. xxii. 26. 

5 " Polluimus corpus Christi, quando indigni accedimus ad altare." 
In Mai. i. 7. 

6 " Pudicitia sacerdotalis, non solum ab opere immundo, sed etiam 
a jactu oculi sit libera." In Tit. i. 8, 9. 

CHAP. vi. i The Sin of Incontinence. \ 1 1 

in the midst of the angels in heaven. 1 And in another 
place he has said that by their purity the hands of a 
priest, which must touch the flesh of Jesus Christ, 
should be more resplendent than the rays of the sun. 2 
On the other hand, St. Augustine asks where can a 
man be found so wicked as to presume to touch the 
most holy sacrament of the altar with unclean hands? 3 
" But," says St. Bernard, " the priest that dares to ascend 
the altar, to handle the body of Jesus Christ, after being 
contaminated with sins of impurity, is guilty of a far 
more enormous crime." 4 "Ah! priest of God," exclaims 
St. Augustine, " the hands that you moisten with the 
blood of the Redeemer do not moisten with the sacri 
legious blood of sin." 5 Ah! do not allow the hands 
which are bathed in the blood of the Redeemer, shed 
one day for the love of you, to be polluted with the 
sacrilegious blood of sin. 

Moreover, -Cassian says that priests must not only 
touch, but must also eat, the sacred flesh of the Lamb; 
and therefore they should practise angelic purity. 6 But 

" Necesse est Sacerdotem sic esse purum, ut, in ipsis coelis collo- 
catus, inter coelestes illas virtutes medius staret." De Sacerd. 1. 3. 

2 "Quo solares radios non deberet excedere manus ilia, quae hanc 
carnem tractat?" In Matt. horn. 83. 

3 " Quis adeo impius erit, qui lutosis manibus Sacratissimum Sacra- 
men tunVtractare prsesumat?"* 

4 "Audent Agni immaculati sacras contingere carnes, et intingere 
in sanguinem Salvatoris manus, quibus paulo ante carnes attrecta- 
verunt." Declain. n. 13. 

5 " Ne manus quae intinguntur sanguine Christi, polluantur sanguine 
peccati." Molina, Intr. Sac. tr. I, c. 5, 2. 

" Qua puritate oportebit custodire castitatem, quos necesse est 
quotidie sacrosanctis Agni carnibus vesci !" De Can. Inst. 1. 6, c. 8. 

* Instead of these words we read at the place indicated: "Si eru- 
bescimus et timemus Eucharistiam manibus sordidis tangere, plus 
debemus timere ipsam Eucharistiam in anima polluta suscipere." 
Serm. 292, E. B. App. ED. 

1 1 2 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

according to Peter Comestor, the priest who, while he is 
defiled with sins against chastity, pronounces the words 
of consecration, spits, as it were, in the face of Jesus 
Christ; and in receiving the sacred body and blood into 
his polluted mouth, he, as it were, casts them into the 
foulest mire. 1 St. Vincent Ferrer says that such a priest 
is guilty of a greater impiety than if he threw the con 
secrated host into a sink. 2 Here St. Peter Damian ex 
claims, and says, " O priests ! whose duty it is to offer to 
God the immaculate Lamb, do not first immolate your 
self to the devil by your impurities." ; Hence the saint 
afterwards calls the unchaste priest a victim of the 
devils, on which these cruel spirits make a most delici 
ous feast in hell. 4 Besides, the unchaste priest not only 
brings himself to perdition, but he also causes the dam 
nation of many others. St. Bernard said that inconti 
nence in ecclesiastics was one of the greatest persecutions 
that the Church could suffer. On the w r ords of Ezechias, 
Behold in peace is my bitterness most bitter? says the holy 
Doctor, the Church has suffered much from the sword 
of the tyrant and from the infection of heresy, but she 
suffers still more from the incontinence of the unchaste 
ecclesiastic, who by his scandals drags the bowels out of 
his own mother. 6 " How shameful," says St. Peter Da- 

1 " Qui sacra illius verba Sacramenti ore immundo profert, in faciem 
Salvatoris spuit; et cum in os immundum sanctisimam Carnem ponit, 
earn quasi in lutum projicit." Scrni. 38. 

2 " Majus peccatum est, quam si projiciat Corpus Christi in cloacam." 

3 "Cur, o Sacerdos, qui sacrificium Deo debes offerre, temet ipsum 
prius maligno spiritui non vereris victimam immolare." Opus. 1 7, c. 3. 

4 " Vos estis daemonum victimae, ad seternse mortis succidium des- 
tinatae; ex vobis diabolus, tamquam delicatis dapibus, pascitur et sagi- 

5 "Ecce in pace amaritudo mea amarissima." Is. xxxviii. 17. 

6 " Amara prius in nece Martyrum, amarior in conflictu hsereticorum, 
amarissima in moribus domesticorum. Pax est, et non est pax: pax 
a paganis, pax ab haereticis, sed non profecto a filiis." In Cant. s. 33. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. 113 

mian, " to see a man who preaches chastity made the 
slave of lust !" 

Sad Effects of Impurity. 

Let us. now examine the evils that the vice of incon 
tinence produces in the soul, particularly in that of a 


First, this sin blinds the soul, and makes her lose sight 
of God and of the eternal truths. " Chastity," says St. 
Augustine, " purifies the mind, and through it men see 
God." 2 But the first effect of the vice of impurity is, 
according to St. Thomas, blindness of the understand 
ing. Its effects are thus described by the saint: "The 
effects of this impure vice are: blindness of the mind, 
hatred of God, attachment to the present life, horror of 
the future life." 3 St. Augustine has said that impurity 
takes away the thought of eternity. 4 When a raven 
finds a dead body, its first act is to pluck out the eyes; 
and the first injury that incontinence inflicts on the soul 
is to take away the light of the things of God. This 
was felt by Calvin, who was first a parish priest, a 
pastor of souls,* but afterwards, by this vice, became 

"Qui prsedicator constitutus es castitatis, non te pudet servum 
esse libidinis!" S. ad Past, in syn. 

"Castitas, mundans mentes hominum, prsestat videre Deum." 
Serin. 291, E. B. app. 

" Caecitas mentis, odium Dei, affectus praesentis saeculi, horor vel 
desperatio futuri." 2. 2, q. 153, a. 5. 
4 " Luxuria futura non sinit cogitare." 

* John Calvin was provided, at the age of twelve, with a chaplaincy 
in the church of Noyon, and afterwards with the curacy of Pont 
1 Eveque, near this city, although he was never raised to the dignity 
of the priesthood. (Diet. hist, de Feller.) 

114 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

an heresiarch; by Henry VIII., first the defender and 
afterwards the persecutor of the Cburch. This was 
also experienced by Solomon; first a saint, and after 
wards an idolater. The same happens to the unchaste 
priest. They shall, says the Prophet Sophonias, walk like 
blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. 1 Miser 
able man! in the midst of the light of the Masses that 
he celebrates, of the Offices that he recites, and of the 
funerals that he attends, he remains as blind as if he 
believed neither in death that awaits him, nor in a future 
judgment, nor in hell that he purchases by his sins. 
Mayest thou, says the Lord, grope at midday as the Mind is 
wont to grope in the dark? In a word, he is so blinded by 
the fetid mire in which he is immersed, that after having 
forsaken God who has raised him so much above others, 
he does not even think of returning to ask pardon. 
They will not, says the Prophet Osee, set their thoughts to 
return to their God; for the spirit of fornication is in the midst 
of them? Hence St. John Chrysostom says, that neither 
the admonitions of Superiors, nor the counsels of virtu 
ous friends, nor the fear of chastisements, nor the danger 
of shame shall be sufficient to enlighten the unchaste 
priest. 4 

No wonder: for he is so blind that he can no longer 
see. Fire hath fallen on them, and they have not seen the sun? 
"This fire is no other than the fire of concupiscence," 6 

1 " Ambulabunt ut caeci, quia Domino peccaverunt." Soph. i. 17. 

2 " Percutiat te Dominus amentia, et caecitate, ac furore mentis, et 
palpes in meridie, sicut palpare solet caecus in tenebris, et non dirigas 
vias tuas." Deut. xxviii. 28. 

3 "Non dabunt cogitationes suas, ut revertantur ad Deum suum; 
quia spiritus fornicationum in medio eorum, et Dominum non cogno. 
verunt." Os. v. 4. 

4 " Nee admonitiones, nee consilia, ne aliquid aliud salvare potest 
animam libidine periclitantem." Horn, contra lux. 

5 " Supercecidit ignis, et non viderunt solem." Ps. Ivii. 9. 

6 " Supercecidit ignis, id est, concupiscentiae." 2. 2, q. 15, a. i. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. 115 

says St. Thomas. Hence he afterwards adds, " The sins 
of the flesh extinguish the light of reason, for carnal 
delectations cause the soul to be drawn entirely towards 
the pleasures of the senses." This vice, by its beastly 
delectation, deprives man even of reason; so that, as 
Eusebius says, it makes him become worse than the 
senseless beast. 2 Hence the unchaste priest, blinded by 
his impurities, shall no longer make any account of the 
injuries that he does to God by his sacrileges, nor of the 
scandal that he gives to others. He will even go so far 
as to dare to say Mass in a state of sin. No wonder; 
for he that has lost the light, easily abandons himself to 
the commission of every crime. 

Come ye to Him and be enlightened? He that wants light 
must draw near to God; but because, according to the 
words of St. Thomas, " a thoroughly impure man is 
mostly removed from God," 4 impurity removes man to 
a great distance from God, the unchaste becomes, as it 
were, senseless brutes that no longer apprehend spiritual 
things. But the sensual man, says St. Pa.u\, perceiveth not 
these things that are of the Spirit of God? Hell, eternity, 
and the dignity of the priesthood, no longer make any 
impression upon the incontinent ecclesiastic: Heperceiveth 
not!" Perhaps he will, as St. Ambrose says, begin even 
to entertain doubts about faith: "Whenever one begins 

" Vitia carnalia extinguunt judicium rationis. Delectatio quse est 
in venereis, totam animam trahit ad sensibilem delectationem." 2. 2, 
q. 53, a. 6. 

2 " Luxuria hominem pejorem bestiafacit." Eusebius, Ep. ad Dam. 
de morte Hier, 

3 "Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

4 " Per peccatum luxuriae, homo videtur maxime a Deo recedere." 
In Job 31, led. i. 

5 "Animalis autem homo non percipit ea quae sunt Spiritus Dei."- 
I Cor. ii. 14. 

6 " Non percipit." 

1 1 6 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

to be incontinent, one begins to deviate from the faith." 
Oh! how many miserable priests have by this vice even 
lost their faith ? His bones, says Job, shall be filled with the 
vices of his youth (the vices of youth are impurities), and 
they shall sleep with him in the dust? As the light of the sun 
cannot enter into a vessel filled with earth, so the light 
of God cannot shine into a soul habituated to sins of 
the flesh: her vices shall continue to sleep with her till 

But as that unhappy soul, for the sake of her impuri 
ties, forgets God, so shall he forget her, and permit her 
to remain abandoned in her darkness. Because, says the 
Lord, thou hast forgotten Me, and hast cast Me off behind thy 
body, bear thou also thy wickedness and thy fornications* St. 
Peter Damian says, " They throw the Lord behind their 
bodies that obey the voice of their passions." 4 Father 
Cataneo 5 relates that a sinner who had contracted a 
habit of impurity, when admonished by a friend to 
abandon his evil ways, unless he wished to be damned, 
answered: " Friend, I may indeed go to hell for this 
habit." He certainly went to that place of torment, for 
he was suddenly struck dead. A priest who was found 
in the house of a certain lady whom he went to tempt 
was compelled by her husband to take a poisonous 
draught. After returning home he took to his bed, and 
mentioned to a friend the misfortune that had befallen 
him. The friend seeing the miserable man so near his 
end exhorted him to go to confession. No, replied the 
unhappy man, I cannot go to confession; this favor only 

1 " Ubicceperit quis luxuriari, incipit deviate a fide recta." Epist.?>. 
" Ossa ejus implebuntur vitiis adolescentiae ejus et cum eo in 
pulvere dormient." fob, xx. n. 

3 " Quia oblita es mei, et projecisti me post corpus tuum, tu quoque 
porta scelus tuum et fornicationes tuas." Ezech. xxiii. 35. 

4 " Illi Deum post corpus suum ponunt, qui suarum obtemperant 
illecebris voluptatum." Opusc. 18, diss. 2, c. 3. 

5 Eserc. della buona m. p. I, d. 34. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. \ 1 7 

I ask of you, go to such a lady, tell her that I die for the 
love of her. Can greater blindness be conceived ? 


In the second place, the sin of impurity produces ob 
stinacy of the will. " Once fallen into the snare of the 
devil, one cannot so easily escape it," says St. Jerome. 
And according to St. Thomas, there is no sin in which 
the devil takes so much delight as in impurity; because 
the flesh is strongly inclined to that vice, and he that 
falls into it can be rescued from it only with difficulty. 2 
Hence the vice of incontinence has been called by 
Clement of Alexandria "a malady without remedy;" 5 
and by Tertullian, "an incurable vice." Hence St. 
Cyprian calls it the mother of impenitence. 5 " It is im 
possible," says Peter de Blois, u for him that submits to 
the domination of the flesh to conquer carnal tempta 
tions." Father Biderman relates of a young man, who 
was in the habit of relapsing into this sin, that at the 
hour of death he confessed his sins with many tears and 
died, leaving strong grounds to hope for his salvation. 
But on the following day his confessor, while saying 
Mass, felt some one pulling the chasuble; turning round 
he saw a dark cloud, which sent forth scintillations of 
fire, and heard a voice saying that was the soul of the 
young man that had died; that though he had been ab 
solved from his sins, he t was again tempted, yielded to a 
bad thought, and was damned. 

1 " Hoc rete diaboli, si quis capitur, non cito solvitur." Eusebius, 
Ep, ad Dam. de morte Hier. 

2 " Diabolus dicitur maxima gaudere de peccato luxuriae, quia est 
rnaximse adhaerentiae, et difficile ab eo homo potest eripi." i. 2, q. 73, 
a. 5. 

3 " Morbus immedicabilis." Pccdag. 1. 2, c. 10. 

4 " Vitium immutabile." 

5 " Impudicitia mater est impoenitentiae." De Disc, et Bon. pud. 

" Est fere impossibile triumphare de carne, si ipsa de nobis trium- 

1 1 8 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

The prophet and the priest are defiled. . . . Therefore their 
way shall be as a slippery way in the dark j for they shall be 
driven on, and fall therein? Behold the ruin of the un 
chaste ecclesiastic. He walks on a slippery path, in the 
midst of darkness, and is impelled to the precipice by 
the devils, and by evil habits. Hence it is impossible 
for him to escape destruction. St. Augustine says that 
they that give themselves up to this vice soon contract 
the habit of it; and the habit soon creates, as it were, a 
necessity of sinning. 2 The vulture rather than abandon 
the carcass on which it has begun to feed is content to 
wait to be killed by the sportsman. This happens to 
him that contracts a habit of impurity. 

Oh! how much greater the obstinacy produced in the 
priest that submits to the tyrannical rule of this vice, 
than that which it causes in seculars! This happens 
both because the priest has had greater light to know 
the malice of mortal sin, and because in him impurity is 
a greater sin than it is in a secular. For the unchaste 
priest not only offends against chastity, but also against 
religion, by violating his vow, and, generally speaking, 
he also transgresses against fraternal charity. For the 
incontinence of a priest is almost always accompanied 
with most grievous scandal to others. In his book on 
the " Last Things," Denis the Carthusian relates that a 
servant of God, conducted in spirit to purgatory, saw 
there many seculars that were suffering for sins against 
purity, but very few priests. Having asked the reason, 
he was told that scarcely any unchaste priest repents 
sincerely of this sin, and that, therefore, almost all such 
priests are damned. 3 

1 " Propheta et Sacerdos polluti sunt; . . . idcirco via eorum erit 
quasi lubricum in tenebris; impellentur enim, et corruent in ea."- 
Jcr. xxiii. II. 

2 " Dum servitur libidini, facta est consuetude; et dum consuetudini 
non resistitur, facta est necessitas." Conf. 1. 8, c. 5. 

3 " Vix aliquis talium veram habet contritionem; idcirco pene omnes 
seternalher damnantur." Quat. A T ov. p. 3. a. 13 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. 1 19 


Finally, this accursed vice leads all, and particularly 
priests that are infected with it, to eternal damnation. 
St. Peter Damian says that the altar of God receives no 
other fire than that of divine love. Hence he that dares 
to ascend the altar inflamed by the fire of impurity 
is consumed by the fire of divine vengeance. 1 And in 
another place he says that all the obscenities of the 
sinner shall be one day converted into pitch, which shall 
eternally nourish in his bowels the fire of hell. 2 

Oh ! what vengeance does not the Lord inflict on the 
unchaste priest ! How many priests are now in hell for 
sins against purity ! " If," says St. Peter Damian, " the 
man in the Gospel, who came to the marriage feast with 
out the nuptial garment, was condemned to darkness, 
what then should he expect who, admitted to the 
mystical banquet of the divine Lamb, neglects to adorn 
himself with the brilliant garb of virtues, and even pre 
sents himself impregnated with the fetid odors of im 
purity." 1 Baronius relates that a priest who had con 
tracted a habit of sins against chastity saw at death a 
multitude of devils coming to carry him away. He 
turned to a religious who was attending him, and be 
sought him to pray for him. But soon after he exclaimed 
that he was before the tribunal of God, and cried aloud: 
" Cease, cease to pray for me, for I am already con- 

1 " Altaria Domini, non alienum, sed ignem dumtaxat divini amoris 
accipiunt; quisquis igitur carnalis concupiscentise flamma aestuat, et 
sacris assistere mysteriis non formidat, ille divinse ultionis igne consu- 
mitur. " Opusc. 27, c. 3. 

2 " Veniet, veniet profecto dies, imo nox, quando libido ista tua ver- 
tetur in picem, qua se perpetuus ignis in tuis visceribns inextingui- 
biliter nutriat." Opusc. 17, c. 3. 

3 "Quid illi sperandum, qui, coelestibus tricliniis intromissus, non 
modo non est spiritalis indumend decore conspicuus, sed ultro etiam 
foetet sordentis luxuriae squalore perfusus." Optisc. 18, d. i, c. 4. 

1 20 Material for Sermons. IPART i. 

demned, and your prayers can be of no service to me." 1 
St. Peter Damian 2 relates that in the city of Parma a 
priest and a woman with whom he had sinned were 
suddenly struck dead. In the revelations of St. Bridget 3 
we read that an unchaste priest was killed by a thunder 
bolt; and it was found that the lightning had reduced 
to ashes only the indelicate members, and left the re 
mainder of the body untouched, as if to show that it 
was principally for incontinence that God had inflicted 
this chastisement upon him. Another priest in our own 
time died suddenly in the act of committing a sin against 
chastity, and for his greater infamy was exposed in the 
court of the church. The unchaste priest dishonors the 
Church, and therefore the Lord justly chastises him by 
making him the most dishonored of all men. Thus, 
speaking of priests, God says, by the Prophet Malachy, 
But you have departed out of the way, and have caused many 
to stumble at the law. . . . Therefore I also made you con 
temptible, and base before all people? 

Remedies for Incontinence. 

The spiritual masters point out many remedies for the 
vice of impurity; but the principal and the most neces 
sary are the flight of occasions, and prayer. As to the 
first means, St. Philip Neri used to say that in this war 
fare cowards, that is, they that avoid dangerous occa 
sions, gain the victory. Let a man use all other possible 

1 " Cessa pro me orare, pro quo nullatenus exaudieris." Anno noo, 
n. 24. 

2 Epist. 1. 5, ep. 16. 

3 Rev. \, 2, c. 2. 

4 " Vos autem recessistis de via, et scandalizastis plurimos in lege; 
. . . propter quod et ego dedi vos contemptibiles et humiles omnibus 
populis." Mai. ii. 8. 

CHAP, vi.] The Sin of Incontinence. \ 2 1 

means, unless he flies away he is lost. He that loveth 
danger shall perish in it. 1 

As to the second means, it is necessary to know that 
we have not strength to resist temptations of the flesh. 
This strength must be the gift of God. But God grants 
it to those only that pray and ask for it. The only 
defence against this temptation, says St. Gregory of 
Nyssa, is prayer. 2 And before him the Wise Man 
said: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be con 
tinent, except God gave it, . . . / went to the Lord and be 
sought Him? 

[They that desire more information on the means of 
overcoming sins of the flesh, and especially on the two 
means above mentioned, the avoidance of occasions, 
and prayer, should read the instruction on chastity in 
the second part of this work.] 

1 " Qui amat periculum, in illo peribit." Ecclus. iii. 27. 

2 " Oratio pudicitiae presidium est." De or. Dom. or. I. 

3 " Et ut scivi quoniam aliter nom possem esse continens, nisi Deus 
det, . . . adii Dominum, et deprecatus sum ilium." Wisd. viii. 21. 

122 Material for Sermons. [PART i- 



Purity Required in the Priest to Celebrate Worthily. 

"WE must needs confess," says the holy Council of 
Trent, " that no other work can be performed by the 
faithful so holy and divine as this tremendous mystery 
itself." God himself could not enable man to perform 
a more sublime or sacred action than the celebration of 
Mass. Oh! how much more excellent than all the 
ancient sacrifices is our sacrifice of the altar, in which 
we immolate not an ox, nor a lamb, but the very Son of 
God? The Jews, says St. Peter of Cluni, had an ox; 
the Christians have Christ: the sacrifice of the latter as 
far transcends that of the former, as Christ is more ex 
cellent than an ox. 2 The same author adds, that to 
servants a servile victim was suited, but for friends and 
children was reserved Jesus Christ a victim that has 
delivered us from sin and eternal death. 3 Justly, then, 
has St. Laurence Justinian said, that there is no oblation 
greater, more profitable to us, or more pleasing to God, 
than the offering that is made in the sacrifice of the 
Mass. 4 

1 " Necessario fatemur nullum aliud opus adeo sanctum a Christ! 
fidelibus tractari posse, quam hoc tremendum mysterium." Sess. 22, 
Deer, de observ. in Miss a. 

2 " Habuit bovem Judseus, habet Christum Christianus, cujus 
sacrificium tanto excellentius est, quanto Christus bove major est." 

a "Congrua tune fuit servilis hostia servis; servata est liberatrix 
victima jam filiis et amicis." Ep. contra Petrobr. 

4 " Qua oblatione nulla major, nulla utilior, nulloque oculis Divinae 
Majestatis est gratior." Serin, dc Euchar. 

CHAP, v i.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 123 

According to St. John Chrysostom, during the cele 
bration of Mass the altar is surrounded by angels, who 
are present to pay homage to Jesus Christ, the victim 
offered in sacrifice. 1 And St. Gregory asks, " who doubts 
that at the very hour of immolation, at that voice of the 
priest, the heavens are opened and the choirs of angels 
are present at that mystery of Jesus Christ?"" St. 
Augustine says that the angels assist as servants to the 
priest who offers the sacrifice. 3 

Now the Council of Trent teaches that Jesus Christ 
himself was the first that offered this great sacrifice of 
his body and blood, and that he now offers himself by 
the hands of a priest chosen to be his minister and rep 
resentative on the altar. 4 St. Cyprian says that " the 
priest truly holds the place of Christ," 5 and that, there 
fore, at the consecration, he says This is My body: this is 
the chalice of My blood? To his disciples Jesus himself 
said, He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despise th 
you, despise th Me? 

The priests of the Old Law the Lord commanded to 
be clean, merely because it was their duty to carry 
the sacred vessels: Be ye clean, you tliat carry the vessels 
of the Lord? "How much more clean," says Peter de 

1 "Locus altari vicinus plenus est Angelorum choris, in honorem 
illius qui immolatur." De Sacerd. 1. 6. 

2 "Quis fidelium habere dubium possit, in ipsa immolationis hora, 
ad Sacerdotis vocem coelos aperiri, et in illo Jesu Christi mysterio 
Angelorum choros adesse ?" Dial. \. 4, c. 58. 

3 " Sacerdos enim hoc ineffabile ccnficit mysterium, et Angeli con- 
ficienti sibi quasi famuli assistunt." Molina, Instr. Sac. tr. i, c. 5, 2. 

4 " Idem nunc offerens Sacerdotum ministerio, qui seipsum tune 
in cruce obtulit." Sess. 22, cap. 2. 

5 "Sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur." Epist. 62. 

6 " Hoc est corpus meum; hie est calix sanguinis mei." 

7 "Qui vos audit, me audit; qui vos spernit, me spernit." Luke, 
x. 16. 

8 " Mundamini, qui fertis vasa Domini." Is. lii. n. 

1 24 Material for Sermons. [PART j. 

Blois, " should they be who carry Christ in their hands 
and in their body?" 1 How much greater purity shall 
God demand from the priests of the New Law, who 
must represent the person of Jesus Christ on the altar, 
in offering to the eternal Father his own very Son ! 
Justly, then, does the Council of Trent require that 
priests celebrate this sacrifice with the greatest possible 
purity of conscience: "It is also sufficiently clear, that 
all industry and diligence are to be applied to this end, 
that it be performed with the greatest possible inward 
cleanness and purity of heart." 2 This, says the Abbot 
Rupert, is what is signified by the Alb with which the 
Church commands the priest to be covered from head to 
foot in the celebration of the holy mysteries. 3 

It is but just that priests should honor God by inno 
cence of life, since he has honored them so much above 
others, by making them the ministers of this great 
mystery. " Behold, O priests," says St. Francis of 
Assisi, "your dignity; and as the Lord has honored you 
on account of this mystery, so be careful on your part 
to love and to honor him. " But how shall a priest 
honor God? Is it by the costliness or vanity of his 
dress ? No, says St. Bernard, but by sanctity of life, by 
the study of the sacred sciences, and by labor in holy 
works. 5 

1 " Quanto mundiores esse oportet, qui in manibus et in corpora 
portant Christum!" Epist. 123.- 

2 " Satis apparet omnem operam et diligentiam in eo ponendam 
esse, ut quanta maxima fieri potest interiori cordis munditia pera- 
gatur." Sess. 22, Deer, de obs. in Missa. 

3 " Candorem significat vitse innocentis, quse a Sacerdote debet in- 

4 " Videte dignitatem vestram, Sacerdotes; et sicut super omnes, 
propter hoc mysterium, honoravit vos Dominus, ita et vos diligite 
eum et honorate." Op. p. i, ep. 12. 

5 " Honorificabitis autem, non cultu vestium, sed ornatis moribus, 
studiis spiritualibus, operibus bonis." De Mor. et Off. Episc. c. 2. 

CHAP, vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 125 


How Great is the Crime of the Priest that Celebrates Mass 
in Mortal Sin. 

But does the priest that celebrates in mortal sin give 
honor to God ? As far as regards himself, he treats the 
Lord with the greatest dishonor that can be offered to 
him, by despising him in his own person. For by his 
sacrilege he appears, as far as in him lies, to defile the 
immaculate Lamb, whom he immolates in the conse 
crated host. To yon, O priests, says the Lord by the 
Prophet Malachy, who despise My name, . . . you offer 
polluted bread upon My altar, and you say, wherein have we 
polluted Thee ? l " We," says St. Jerome, in his comment 
on this passage, " pollute the bread, that is, the body 
of Christ, when we unworthily approach the altar. 2 

God cannot raise a man to a greater elevation than by 
conferring on him the sacerdotal dignity. How many 
selections must the Lord have made in calling a person to 
the priesthood. First, he must select him from a count 
less number of possible creatures. He must then separate 
him from so many millions of pagans and heretics, and, 
lastly, he must make choice of him from the immense 
multitude of the faithful. And what power does God 
confer on this man ? If the Lord bestowed only on one 
man the power of calling down by his words the Son of 
God from heaven, how great should be his obligations 
and his gratitude to the Lord ! This power God grants 
to every priest. Lifting up the poor out of the dunghill, that 
he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people? 

1 " Ad vos, o Sacerdotes, qui despicitis nomen meum! . . . Offertis 
super altare meum panem pollutum, et dicitis: In quo polluimus te?" 
Mai. i. 6. 

2 "Polluimus panem, id est, corpus Christi, quando indigni accedi- 
mus ad altare." 

3 " De stercore erigens pauperem, ut collocet eum cum principibus 
populi sui." Ps. cxii. 6. 

126 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

The number of persons to whom God has given this power 
does not diminish the dignity or the obligations of the 
priesthood. But what does the priest do that celebrates 
in the state of sin ? He dishonors and despises the 
Lord, by declaring that so great a sacrifice is not deserv 
ing of the reverence which would make him dread the 
sacrilegious oblation of it, says St. Cyril. 1 

The hand, says St. John Chrysostom, that touches the 
sacred flesh of Jesus Christ, and the tongue that is pur 
pled with his divine blood, should be purer than the 
rays of the sun. 2 In another place he says that a priest 
ascending the altar should be possessed of purity and 
sanctity which would merit for him a place in the midst 
of the angels. 3 How great, then, must be the horror of 
the angels when they behold a priest, who is the enemy 
of God, stretching forth his sacrilegious hands to touch 
and eat the immaculate Lamb ! " Who," exclaims St. 
Augustine, shall be so wicked and daring as to touch 
the most holy sacrament with polluted hands!" 4 Still 
more wicked is the priest that celebrates Mass with a 
soul defiled by mortal sin. God turns away his eyes 
that he may not behold such horrible impiety. When, 
says the Lord,jy<?# stretch forth your hands, I will turn 
away My eyes, . . . . for your hands are full of blood? To 
express the disgust that he feels at the sight of such 

1 " Qui non adhibet honorem quern debet altari sancto, factis testa- 
tur illud esse contemptibile." Molina, Instr. Sacerd. tr. 2, c. 18, I. 

2 "Quo igitur solari radio non puriorem esse oportet manum car- 
nem hanc dividentem, linguam quse tremendo nimis sanguine ru- 
bescit?" Ad pop. Ant. honi. 60. 

3 " Nonne accedentem ad altare Sacerdotem sic parum esse oportet, 
ut, si in ipsis coelis esset collocatus, inter coelestes illas virtutes me- 
dius staret." De Sacerd. \. 3. 

4 " Quis adeo impius erit, qui lutosis manibus sacratissimum 
Sacramentum tractare prresumat?" 

5 " Cum extenderitis manus vestras, avertam oculos meos a vobis." 
-Is. i. 15. 

CHAP vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 127 

sacrilegious priests, the Lord declares that he will scatter 
the dung of their sacrifices over their faces: I will scatter 
upon your face the dung of your solemnities^ It is true, as 
the Council of Trent teaches, that the holy sacrifice 
cannot be contaminated by the malice of priests. 2 How 
ever, priests who celebrate in the state of sin defile, as 
far as in them lies, the sacred mystery; and therefore the 
Lord declares that he is, as it were, polluted by their 
abominations. Her priests have defiled My sanctuaries, 
. . . and I was profaned in the midst of them? 
Alas! O Lord, exclaims St. Bernard, how does it 
happen that some of those that hold a high place in your 
Church are the first to persecute you! 4 This is, indeed, 
too true, as St. Cyprian says, that a priest who cele 
brates Mass in the state of sin insults with his mouth 
and hands the very body of Christ. 5 Another author, 
Peter Comeston, adds, that the priest who pronounces 
the words of consecration in the state of sin spits, as it 
were, in the face of Jesus Christ; and when he receives 
the most holy sacrament into his unhallowed mouth he, 
as it were, casts the body and blood of Jesus Christ into 
the mire/ But why do I say that he casts Jesus Christ 
into the mire ? The soul of a priest in sin is worse than 
mire; and, as Theophilactus says, the mire is not so un- 

1 " Dispergam super vultum vestrum stercus solemnitatum vestra- 
rum." Mai. ii. 3. 

2 " Hsec quidem ilia munda oblatio est, quffi nulla malitia offeren- 
tium inquinari potest." Sess. 22, cap. i. 

3 " Coinquinabar in medio eorum." Ezech. xxii. 26. 

4 " Heu, Domine, Deus, quia ipsi sunt in persecutione tua primi, 
qui videntur in Ecclesia tua gerere principatum." /;/ Conv. S. Fzi Ji 
s. i. 

5 " Vis infertur corpori Domini; in Dominum manibus atque ore 
delinquunt." Serin, de. Lapsis. 

6 Qui sacra illius verba Sacramenti ore immundo profert, in 
faciem Salvatoris spuit; et cum in os immundum sanctissimum car- 
nem ponit, eum quasi in lutum projicitV Serm. 38. 

128 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

worthy of receiving the divine flesh as the heart of a 
sacrilegious priest. 1 The sacrilegious priest, then, says 
St. Vincent Ferror, is guilty of greater impiety than if 
he cast the most holy sacrament into a sink. 2 Such, too, 
is the doctrine of St. Thomas of Villanova. 3 

The sins of a priest are always most grievous on 
account of the injury that they do to God, who has 
chosen him for his own minister, and has heaped so 
many favors upon him. It is one thing, says St. 
Peter Damian, to violate the laws of a sovereign, and 
another to strike him with your own hands. This is 
what the priest does that offers sacrifice in the state of 
mortal sin. " It is one thing to transgress edicts which 
the king has promulgated, and another to wound him 
with our own hands. No one sins more grievously than 
the priest that offers sacrifice unworthily. When we sin 
in any other way we, as it were, injure God in his prop 
erty, but when we unworthily offer sacrifice we dare to 
lay violent hands upon his person. 4 This was the sin of 
the Jews who had the daring audacity to offer violence 
to the person of Jesus Christ. But St. Augustine teaches 
that the sin of the priest that offers sacrifice unworthily 
is still more grievous: "Those that unworthily offer 
Jesus Christ in heaven sin more grievously than the 
Jews who crucified him when he w r as upon earth. 5 The 

1 " Lutum non adeo indignum est corpore divino, quam indignaest 
carnis tuae impuritas." In Pleb. 10, 16. 

2 " Majus peccatum est, quam si projiceret corpus Christi in clo- 

3 "Quantum flagitium sit in spurcissimam pectoris tui cloacam 
Christi sanguinem fundere." De Sacram. alt. cone. 3. 

4 " Aliud est promulgata edicta negligere, aliud ipsum regem 
vibrato propriae manus jaculo sanciare. Deterius nemo peccat, quam 
Sacerdos qui indigne sacrificat: aliter in quocumque modo peccantes, 
quasi Dominum in rebus ejus offendimus; indigne vero sacrificantes, 
velut in personam ejus manus injicere non timemus." Opusc. 26, c. 2. 

5 " Minus peccaverunt Judaei crucifigen es in terra deambulantem, 
quam qui contemnunt in coelo sedentem. In Ps. 68, s. 2. 

CHAP vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 129 

Jews did not know the Redeemer as priests do. Besides, 
as Tertullian says, the Jews lay hands on Jesus Christ 
only once, but the sacrilegious priest dares frequently 
to repeat this injurious treatment. 1 It is also necessary 
to remark, that, according to the doctrine of theologians, 
a priest by the sacrilegious celebration of Mass is guilty 
of four mortal sins: i. Because he consecrates in the 
state of sin, 2 Because he communicates in the state of 
sin, 3 Because he administers the sacrament in the state 
of sin; and, 4 Because he administers it to an unworthy 
person, that is, to himself, who is in mortal sin.* 

This made St. Jerome foam, through zeal, against the 
Deacon Sabinian. " Miserable wretch !" said the holy 
Doctor, " how has it happened that your eyes have not 
grown dim, that your tongue has not been twisted, 
that your arms have not fallen to the ground when you 
dared to assist at the altar in the state of sin." 2 St. 
John Chrysostom teaches that a priest that approaches 
the altar with a soul stained with mortal sin is far 
worse than a devil. 3 For the devils tremble in the pres 
ence of Jesus Christ We read in the life of St. Teresa 
that when she was going to Communion one day she 
saw with terror a devil on each side of the priest who 
celebrated Mass in the state of mortal sin. The devils 
trembled in the presence of the holy sacrament, and 
manifested a desire to fly away. From the consecrated 
Host Jesus said to the saint, " Behold the force of the 
words of consecration, and see, O Teresa, my goodness 

1 " Semel Judaei Christo manus intulerunt ; isti quotidie corpus ejus 
lacessunt. O manus praescindendae!" De Idol. 

2 Miser non caligaverunt oculi tui, lingua torpuit, conciderunt 
brachia !" Ep. ad Sabian. 

3 " Multo daemonic pejor est, qui, peccati conscius, accedit ad 
altare." In Matt. horn. 83. 

* Cfr. our Moral Theology, 1. 6, n. 35, and V. Hinc dicimus^ 

1 30 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

which makes me willing to place myself in the hands of 
my enemy for your welfare, and for the welfare of every 
Christian !" j The devils then tremble before Jesus in 
the holy sacrament; but the sacrilegious priest not only 
does not tremble, but, as St. John Chrysostom says, he 
audaciously tramples on the Son of God in his own per 
son. 2 In the sacrilegious priest are verified the words 
of the Apostle: How much more do you think he deserveth 
worse punishments who hath trodden under foot the Son of 
God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean by 
which he was sanctified ?* Then, in the presence of that 
God at whose beck the pillars of heaven tremble, and the 
whole earth and all things in it are moved? a worm of the 
earth dares to trample on the blood of the Son of God ! 
But, alas ! what greater calamity can befall a priest 
than to change redemption into perdition; sacrifice into 
sacrilege, and life into death ? Great, indeed, was the 
impiety of the Jews who drew blood from the side of 
Jesus Christ; but far greater is the impiety of the priest 
who receives from the chalice the same blood and in 
sults it. Such is the thought of Peter de Blois; he adds, 
while borrowing the words of St. Jerome: " Shame on 
the perfidious Jew; shame on the perfidious Christian : 
the Jew caused the blood to flow from the side of Christ; 
the Christian, the priest, causes the same blood to flow 
from the chalice in order to profane it." 5 Of such priests 
our Lord complained one day to St. Bridget, saying, 

1 Life, ch. 38. 

2 " Quando qui particeps est cum ipso in mysteriis, peccatum com- 
mittit, non eum concnlcat." /;/ Hcb. hom.-2O. 

3 " Quanto majus putatis deteriora mereri supplicia, qui Filium Dei 
conculcaverit, et sanguinem testament! pollutum duxerit, in quo sanc- 
tificatus est?" Heb. x.2O. 

4 " Columnse coeli contremiscunt." Job, xxvi. n. 

5 " Quam perditus ergo est, qui redemptionem in perditionem, qui 
sacrificium in sacrilegium, qui vitam convertit in mortem ! Verbum 
beati Hieronymi est: Perfidus Jndseus, perfidus Christianus, ille de 
latere, isle de calice, sanguinem Christi Cuditl " Egist. 123. 

CHAP, vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 131 

" They crucify my body more cruelly than the Jews 
did." A learned author says that the priest who cele 
brates in the state of sin is guilty, as it were, of mur 
dering before the eyes of the eternal Father his own 
Son. 2 

Oh ! what an impious treason. Behold how Jesus 
Christ complains, by the mouth of David, of the sacri 
legious priest: For if My enemy had reviled Me 2 would 
verily have borne with it, . . . but thou, a man of one mind, 
and My familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with 
Me? Behold an exact description of a priest who offers 
Mass in the state of sin. If my enemy, said the Lord, 
had insulted me, I would have borne the offence with 
less pain; but you whom I have made my familiar, my 
minister, a prince among my people, to whom I have so 
often given my flesh for food you have sold me to the 
devil for the indulgence of passion, for a beastly gratifi 
cation, for a little earth. Of this sacrilegious treason 
the Lord complained to St. Bridget: "Such priests," he 
said, "are not my priests, but real traitors; for, like 
Judas, they sell and betray me." 4 St. Bernardine of 
Sienna teaches that such priests are even worse than 
Judas; because Judas betrayed the Saviour to the Jews, 
but they deliver him up to devils by receiving him into 
their sacrilegious breasts, which are ruled by devils. 5 

1 " Corpus meum amarius crucifigunt, quam Judaei." Rev. 1. 4, 
c. 133- 

2 " Ne, si peccatis obnoxii offerunt, eorum oblatio sit quasi qui 
victimat Filium in conspectu Patris." Durant. De Rit. Eccl. 1. 2. c. 
42, 4- 

3 " Quoniam, si inimicus meus maledixisset mihi, sustinuissem 
utique; . . . tu vero, homo unanimis, dux meus et notus meus, qui 
simul mecum dulces capiebas cibos !" Ps. liv. 13. 

4 "Tales Sacerdotes non sunt mei Sacerdotes, sed veri proditores 
ipsi enim et me vendunt quasi Judas." Rev. 1. I, c. 47. 

5 " Juda traditore deteriores effecti, eo quod, sicut ille tradidit Jesum 
Judseis, sic isti tradunt diabolis, eo quod ilium ponunt in loco sub 
potestate d.iaboji" T. II. s. 55, a. I, c. 3. 

132 Material for Sermons. IP ART i. 

Peter Comestor observes that when a sacrilegious priest 
begins the prayer Aufer a nobis iniquitates nostras, etc. 
("Take away from us our iniquities, etc."), and kisses 
the altar, Jesus appears to reproach him, and say: 
Judas, do you betray me with a kiss? 1 And when the 
priest, says St. Gregory, extends his arm to communi 
cate, I think I hear the Redeemer say what he said to 
Judas/ * Behold the hand that betrays me is with me on 
the altar." 2 Hence, according to St. Isidore of Pelu- 
sium, the sacrilegious priest is, like Judas, entirely pos 
sessed by the devil. 3 

Ah ! the blood of Jesus Christ, so much insulted, cries 
more powerfully for vengeance against the sacrilegious 
priest than the blood of Abel did against Cain. This 
Jesus himself declared to St. Bridget. Oh ! what horror 
must God and his angels feel at the sight of a sacri 
legious Mass ! This horror the Lord made known in 
the following manner, in the year 1688, to his servant 
Sister Mary Crucified, of Palma, in Sicily. At first she 
heard a doleful trumpet, which uttered, in a tone of 
thunder, audible over the entire earth, the following 
words: Ultio, pcena, dolor (vengeance, punishment, pain). 
She then saw several sacrilegious ecclesiastics singing 
psalms with discordant voices, and in a confused and 
irregular manner. She next saw one of them rise up to 
go to the altar and say Mass. While he was putting on 
the sacred vestments, the church was covered with dark 
ness and mourning. He approaches the altar, and, in 
saying the Introibo ad altare Dei, the trumpet sounds 

1 "Nonne Christus potest stare, et dicere: Juda ! tradis osculo 
Filium hominis !" Serin. 42. 

2 " Qui Christi corpus indigne conficit, Christum tradit, ut Christus, 
dum traditur dicat; Ecce manus tradentis me mecum est in mensa." 
P. de Blots, Epist. 123. 

3 " Ineisqui peccant, nee sanctamysteriacontingere verentur, totus 
daemon se insinuat; quod etiam in proditore quoque fecit." Egist. 1. 
3 e P- 3 6 4- 

CHAP, vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 133 

again and repeats, ultio,p(Ena, dolor. In an instant the 
altar appeared to be surrounded by flames of fire, which 
denoted the just fury of the Lord against the unworthy 
celebrant; and at the same time a great multitude of 
angels were seen with swords in their hands as if to exe 
cute vengeance on him for the sacrilegious Mass which 
he was going to offer. When the monster came near 
the consecration, a crowd of vipers sprung from the 
midst of the flames to drive him away from the altar; 
these vipers represented his fears and stings of con 
science. But they were all useless; the impious wretch 
preferred his own reputation to all these stings of re 
morse. Finally he pronounced the words of consecra 
tion; and instantly the servant of God felt a universal 
earthquake, which caused heaven, earth, and hell to 
tremble. She saw angels around the altar bathed in 
tears; but the divine mother wept still more bitterly at 
the death of her innocent son, and at the loss of a sinful 
child. After a vision so tremendous and dismal, the 
servant of God was so overpowered with fear and sor 
row that she could do nothing but weep. The author 
of her life remarks that it was in the same year the 
earthquake happened which produced such havoc in the 
city of Naples and in the surrounding country. Hence 
we may infer that this earthquake was a punishment 
for the sacrilegious Mass at which Sister Mary was 

But, exclaims St. Augustine, what more horrid impiety 
can be conceived than that the tongue that calls down 
the Son of God from heaven should be, at the very same 
moment, employed in outraging his majesty? or that 
the hands that are bathed in the blood of Jesus Christ 
should be, at the same time, polluted with the blood of 
sin. 1 To the sacrilegious priest St. Bernard says: O 
"Ne lingua, quae vocat de coelo Filium Dei, contra Dominum 
loquatur; et manus, quae intinguntur sanguine Christi, polluantur 
sanguine peccati." Molina, Instr. Sacr. tr. i, c. 5, 2. 

134 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

unworthy wretch ! if you wish to commit the enormous 
crime of celebrating Mass in the state of sin, at least 
procure another tongue, and do not employ that which 
is washed in the blood of Jesus Christ; procure hands 
different from those which you stretch out to touch his 
sacred flesh. 1 Oh ! let the priest who wishes to live at 
enmity w r ith God at least abstain from sacrilegiously 
offering sacrifice on his altar ! But, no ! says St. Bona- 
venture: he will, for the sake of the miserable stipend 
that he receives, continue to commit a sin of such hor 
rible enormity. 2 Perhaps he expects that the sacred 
flesh of Jesus Christ which he offers in sacrifice will 
deliver him from his iniquities ? Shall the holy flesh, says 
the prophet Jeremias, take away from thee thy crimes in 
which thou hast boasted? 3 No: the contact of that sacred 
body, as long as you remain in the state of sin, shall 
render you more guilty and more deserving of chastise 
ment. He, says St. Peter Chrysologus, who commits 
a crime in the presence of his judge can advance no 
grounds of defence. 4 

What chastisement does not the priest deserve who, 
.instead of carrying with him to the altar flames of 
divine charity, brings the fetid fire of unchaste love ! 
Speaking of the punishment inflicted on the sons of 
Aaron for having offered strange fire, St. Peter Damian 
says: " Let us take care not to mingle unholy fire, that 
is, the flames of lust with the salutary sacrifices." ! 

1 " Quando ergo peccare volueris, quaere aliam linguam quam earn 
quae rubescit sanguine Christi, alias manus praeter eas quae Christum 

2 " Accedunt, non vocati a Deo, sed impulsi ab avaritia." De 
Prcep. ad M. c. 8. 

3 " Numquid carnes sanctae auferent a te malitias tuas, in quibus 
gloriata es ?" fer. xi. 15. 

4 " Excusatione caret, qui facinus, ipso judice teste, committit." 
Serm. 26. 

5 " Cavendum est ne alienum ignem, hoc est, libidinis flammam, 
inter salutares hostias deferanuis." Opusc. 26, c. i. I. evil. x. 

CHAP, vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 135 

Whosoever, adds the saint, shall dare to carry the flame 
of lust to the altar, shall certainly be consumed by the 
fire of God s vengeance. 1 May the Lord, then, says the 
holy Doctor in another place, preserve us from ever 
adoring on the altar the idol of impurity, and from 
placing the Son of the Virgin in the Temple of Venus, 
that is, in an unchaste heart! 2 If the man that came to 
the feast without the nuptial garment was cast into 
darkness, how much greater vengeance shall fall on him 
who approaches the divine table not only not clothed 
with a decent garment, but exhaling the stench of his 
impurities? says the same St. Peter Damian. 3 Woe, ex 
claimed St. Bernard, to him that separates himself from 
God; but still greater woe to the priest who approaches 
the altar with a guilty conscience. 4 Speaking one day 
to St. Bridget of a priest who had sacrilegiously cele 
brated Mass, the Lord said that he entered into the 
soul of that priest as a spouse for his sanctification, and 
that he was obliged to depart from it as a judge, to in 
flict the punishment merited by the sacrilegious recep 
tion of his body. 5 

If the sacrilegious priest will not abstain from cele 
brating the divine mysteries in the state of sin, through 
horror of the insult, or rather of so many insults, offered 
to God by sacrilegious Masses, he ought at least to 

1 " Quisquis carnalis concupiscentiae flamma aestuat, et sacris assis- 
tere mysteriis non formidat, ille, procul dubio, divinse ultionis igne 
consumitur." Opusc. 27, c. 3. 

- " Absit ut aliquis huic idolo substernatur, ut Filium Virginis in 
Veneris templo suscipiat." Serin. 60. 

3 "Quid illi sperandum, qui, coelestibus tricliniis intromissus, non 
modo non est spiritualis indumenti decore conspicuus, sed ultro etiam 
fsetet sordentis luxurise squalore perfusus." Opusc. 18. d. i, c. 4. 

4 " Vse ei qui se alienum fecerit ab eo: et multum vse ei qui im- 
mundus accesserit." De Old. vita. c. 2. 

5 " Ingredior ad Sacerdotem istum ut sponsus; egredior ut Judex, 
judicaturus contemptus a sumente." Rev. 1. 4, c. 62. 

136 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

tremble at the awful chastisement prepared for him. St. 
Thomas of Villanova teaches that no punishment is 
sufficient to avenge a crime so enormous as a sacrilegious 
Mass. " Woe," he says, " to the sacrilegious hands! woe 
to the unclean breast of the impious priest! Every 
punishment is inadequate to the sin by which Christ is 
despised in this sacrifice." 2 Our Lord once said to St. 
Bridget that such priests are cursed by all creatures in 
heaven and on earth. 2 A priest, as we have said in 
another place, is a vessel consecrated to God; and as 
Balthasar was chastised for having profaned the vessels 
of the Temple, so says, Peter de Blois, shall the priest 
be punished who unworthily offers sacrifice: " We see 
priests abusing vessels consecrated to God, but near 
them is that hand and that terrible writing: Mane, 
Thecel, Phares numbered, weighed, divided." 1 Thou 
art numbered: a single sacrilege is sufficient to put an 
end to the number of divine graces. Thou art weighed : 
such a crime is enough to make the balance of divine 
justice descend to the eternal perdition of the sacri 
legious priest. Divided : enraged at such an enormity, 
the Lord shall banish and separate you from himself for 
eternity. Thus, then, shall be verified the words of 
David: Let their table become as a snare before them? The 
altar shall become for the sacrilegious priest the place 
of his punishment, where, remaining obstinate in sin, he 
shall be bound in the chains of hell, and shall be made 
the perpetual slave of Satan. For, according to St. 

1 "Vae sacrilegis manibus, vae immundis pectoribus impiorum 
Sacerdotum! omne supplicium minus est flagitio quo Christus con- 
tern nitur in hoc sacrificio." De Sacrum, alt. cone. 3. 

2 " Maledicti sunt a ccelo et terra, et ab hominibus creaturis, quae 
ipsae obediunt Deo, et isti spreverunt." Rev. 1. I, c. 47. 

3 " Videmus Sacerdotes abutentes vasis Deo consecratis; sed prope 
est manus ilia et scriptura terribilis: Mane, Thecel, Phares : Numera- 
tum, Appensum, Divisum." Serin. 56 

4 " Fiat mensa eorum coram ipsis in laqueum." Ps. Ixviii. 23. 

CHAP, vii.] The Sacrilegious Mass. 137 

Laurence Justinian, they that communicate in mortal 
sin adhere with greater pertinacity to sin. 1 This is con 
formable to the doctrine of the apostle, that he that eat- 
eth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to 
himself? Hence St. Peter Damian exclaims: O priest 
of God, who offer to the eternal Father his own Son 
in sacrifice do not beforehand immolate yourself as a 
victim to the devil. 3 

1 " Sumentes indigne, prae cseteris delicta graviora committunt, et 
pertinaciores in malo sunt." S. de Euchar. 

2 " Qui enim manducat et bibit indigne, judicium sibi manducat et 
bibit." I Cor. xi. 29. 

3 "Cur, o Sacerdos, qui sacrificium Deo debes offerre, temetipsum 
prius maligno spiritui non vereris victimam immolare?" Opusc. 17, 
c. 3- 

138 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 



THE devil first procured the invention of deities 
addicted to vice, he then sought to induce the Gentiles 
to worship them, that thus men might consider it law 
ful to sin as often as they pleased, and that they might 
even lose all horror for the vices with which they saw 
their gods clothed. This, Seneca, who was a Gentile, 
confessed: " Since we have such gods the horror of 
vice should disappear from among men." " To attribute 
vices to the gods what is it but to inflame passion 
in the hearts of men, at the same time legalizing all the 
disorders through the example of the divinity?" 2 Hence, 
as we read in the works of the same Seneca, the unhappy 
Gentiles would say: "Why should that be forbidden to 
me what the gods have a right to do ?" 3 But what the 
devil obtained from the Gentiles by means of these pre 
tended deities, whom he proposed as models for imita 
tion, he now obtains from Christians by means of the 
scandalous priest, who by his bad example persuades 
poor seculars into a belief that what they see in their 
pastor is lawful, or at least not a great evil in world 
lings. "Seculars think," says St. Gregory, "that all is 
allowed them what they see their pastors do, so that 

1 " Quibus nihil aliud actum est, quam ut pudor hominibus peccandi 
demeretur." De Vita beata, c. 26. 

2 " Quid aliud est vitia incendere, quam auctores illis inscribere 
deos, dare morbo, exemplo divinitatis, excusatam licentiam ?" De 
Brevit. vita, c. 1 6. 

3 " Quod divos decuit, cur mihi turpe putem ?" 

CHAP- viii.] The Sin of Scandal. 1 39 

they imitate them the more ardently." God has placed 
priests in the world that they maybe a model to others, 
as our Saviour himself was sent by his Father to be an 
example to the world: As the Father hath sent me, I also 
send you? Hence St. Jerome wrote to a bishop to guard 
against actions by the imitation of which others might 
be drawn, as it were, by force into sin. 3 

The sin of scandal consists not only in directly 
advising others to do evil, but also in inducing them in 
directly by acts to the commission of sin. Scandal is 
thus defined by St. Thomas and other theologians: 
" Every word or action, more or less inordinate, that con 
stitutes for the neighbor an occasion of falling into sin." " 
To understand the grievousness of the sin of scandal, it 
is enough to know, that according to St. Paul he who 
offends against a brother by leading him into sin, offends 
against Jesus Christ: When you sin against the brethren, 
and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ? St 
Bernard assigns the reason, saying, that the author of 
scandal robs Jesus Christ of the souls redeemed by his 
blood. The saint goes so far as to say that Jesus Christ 
suffers more from those that scandalize others than he 
did from his crucifiers. " If our Lord," he says, " has 
given his blood to redeem souls, do you not think that of 
these two persecutions, the one in which scandal robs 
him of souls purchased by his blood, the other in which 

1 " Persuadent sibi id licere, quod a suis pastoribus fieri conspiciunt, 
et ardentius perpetrant." 

s " Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." John, xx. 21. 

3 " Cave ne committas quod, qui volunt imitari, coguntur delin- 
quere." Ep. ad Heliod. 

4 " Dictum vel factum minus rectum, praebens occasionem ruinae." 
2, 2, q. 43, a. i. 

5 " Peccantes autem in fratres, et percutientes conscientiam eorum 
infirmam, in Christum peccatis." i Cor. viii. 12. 

140 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

the Jews shed his blood, the first is much more cruel to 
his heart ?" J 

But if in all, even in seculars, the sin of scandal is so 
detestable, how much greater must be its malice in a 
priest, whom God has placed on earth to save souls and 
to conduct them to heaven ! The priest is called the 
salt of the earth and the light of the world. 2 The office 
of salt is to preserve soundness and prevent putrefaction, 
and the office of the priest is to preserve souls in the 
grace of God. What, says St. Augustine, shall become 
of the people if the priest does not perform the office of 
salt. 3 Then the saint proceeds to say, this salt shall be 
fit only to be cast away by the Church, and to be trod 
den by all. 4 But what, if, instead of being a preservative, 
this salt be employed in producing and promoting cor 
ruption ? If instead of bringing souls to God, a priest 
is occupied in leading them to perdition, whast punish 
ment shall he deserve? 

The priest is also the light of the world. 5 Hence, says 
St. John Chrysostom, he should shine with the splendor 
of his sanctity so as to enlighten all others to imitate 
his virtues. But should this light be changed into 
darkness, what must become of the world ? Shall it not 

" Si (Dominus) proprium sanguinem dedit in pretium redemptionis 
animarum, non tibi videtur graviorem sustinere persecutionem ab illo 
qui, scandali occasione avertit ab eo animas quas redemit, quam a 
Judseo, qui sanguinem suum fudit ?" In Conv. S. Pauli, s. i. 

2 " Vos estis-sal terrae?" Matt. v. 13. 

3 " Itaque, si sal infatuatum fuerit, in quo salietur? Qui erunt 
homines per quos a vobis error auferatur, cum vos elegerit Deus, per 
quos errorem auferat caeterorum ?" 

4 " Ergo ad nihilum valet sal infatuatum, nisi ut mittatur foras, et 
calcetur ab hominibus." De Sertn. Dom. in monte, 1. I, c. C. 

5 "Vos estis lux mundi." Matt. v. 14. 

6 " Splendore vitae totum illuminantis orbem splendere debet animus 
Sacerdotis." De Sacerd. 1. 6. 

CHAP, viii.] The Sin of Scandal. 141 

be brought to ruin ? says St. Gregory. 1 The saint has 
written the same to the bishops of France, whom he 
exhorted to chastise the priest who is guilty of scandal. 2 
This is conformable to the words of the Prophet Osee: 
And there shall be like people like priest? By the mouth of 
Jeremias the Lord has said, And I will fill the soul of the 
priest with fatness : and My people shall be filled with good 
things. Hence St. Charles Borromeo says that if the 
priests be fat and rich in virtue, the people, too, shall be 
rich; but if the priests be poor, the people shall be in 
still greater poverty. 5 

Thomas de Cantimpre writes that in Paris a devil told 
an ecclesiastic to preach to the clergy of that city, and 
to say that the princes of hell saluted and thanked some 
of them for having caused the damnation of an immense 
multitude of souls. 6 Of this the Lord complained by 
the Prophet Jeremias: My people, hath been a lost flock; 
their shepherds have caused them to go astray} There is no 
alternative, says St. Gregory; when the priest walks into 
the precipice, the people, too, are dashed to ruin. 3 The 
bad example of the priest necessarily produces im- 

1 " Laqueus ruinse populi mei, Sacerdotes mali." Fast. p. i, c, 2. 

2 " Ne paucorum facinus multorum possit esse perditio; nam causa 
sunt ruinse populi Sacerdotes mali." Epist. 1. 9, ep. 64. 

3 " Et erit, sicut populus, sic Sacerdos." Os. iv. 9. 

4 " Et inebriabo animam Sacerdotum pinguedine, et populus meus 
bonis meis adimplebitur." Jer. xxxi. 14. 

5 Si pingues sint Sacerdotes, erunt itidern populi pingues; et 
secus, si illi inanes erunt, magnum populis imminebit paupertatis per- 
iculum." /;/ Synod, dicec. n, orat. I. 

6 ""Principes tenebrarum principes Ecclesiae salutant. Laeti omnes 
nos gratias eisdem referimus, quia, per eorum negligentiam, ad nos 
devolvitur totus fere mundus." De Apib. 1. i, c. 20. 

7 " Grex perditus factus est populus meus; pastores eorum sedux- 
erunt eos." Jer. 1. 6. 

8 " Unde fit ut, cum pastor per abrupta graditur, ad prsecipitium 
grex sequatur." Past. p. i, c. 2. 

142 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

morality among his people, says St. Bernard. 1 Should 
a secular mistake the way, he alone is lost; but when a 
priest errs, he shall cause the perdition of many, par 
ticularly of those that are under his care, says the same 
St. Bernard. 2 The Lord ordained in Leviticus that for 
the sin of a single priest a calf should be offered, as well 
as for the sins of the entire people. From this Innocent 
III. concludes that the sin of a priest is as grievous as 
the sins of the whole people. The reason is, says the 
Pontiff, that by his sin the priest leads the entire people 
into sin. 3 And, long before, the Lord himself said the 
same: If the priest that is anointed shall sin, he maketh the 
people to offend." Hence, St. Augustine, addressing priests, 
says, " Do not close heaven: but this you do if you give 
to others a bad example to lead a wicked life." Our 
Lord said one day to St. Bridget, that when sinners see 
the bad example of the priest, they are encouraged to 
commit sin, and even begin to glory in the vices of which 
they were before ashamed. 6 Hence our Lord added 
that worse maledictions shall fall on the priest than on 
others, because by his sinful life he brings himself and 
others to perdition. 7 

1 " Misera eorum conversatio plebis subversio est." In Conv. S. 
Pauli, s. i. 

2 " Si quis de populo deviat, solus perit; verum principis error mul- 
tos involvit, et tantis obest, quantis praeest ipse." Epist. 127. 

3 " Unde conjicitur quod peccatum Sacerdotis totius multitudinis 
peccato cosequatur, quia Sacerdos in suo peccato totam fecit delinquere 
multitudinem." In Consecr. Pont. s. i. 

4 " Si Sacerdos qui unctus est, peccaverit, delinquere faciens 
populum." Lev. iv. 3. 

5 " Nolite eis ccelum claudere; clauditis, dum male vivere osten- 
ditis." Ad Fratr. in er. s. 36. 

6 "Viso exemplo pravo Sacerdotum, peccator nduciam peccandi 
sumit, et incipit de peccato, quod prius reputabat erubescibile, glo- 

7 " Ideo ipsis erit amplior maledictio prae aliis, quia se vita sua 
perdunt et alio." Rev. 1. 4, c. 132. 

CHAP, viii.] The Sin of Scandal. 1 43 

The author of the Imperfect Work says that all that 
see a tree covered with pale and withered leaves im 
mediately infer that its roots have been injured; and 
when we see a people immoral, we may justly conclude, 
without danger of rash judgment, that the priest is a 
man without virtue. 1 Yes, says St. John Chrysostom, 
the life of the priest is the root from which the people, 
who are the branches, receive nutriment. St. Ambrose a 
also says that priests are the head from which virtue 
flows to the members, that is, to seculars. The whole head 
is sick, says the Prophet Isaias; . . . from the sole of the 
foot unto the top of the head there is no soundness therein? 
St. Isidore explains this passage in the following words: 
" This languishing head is the priest that commits sin, 
and that communicates his sin to the whole body." St. 
Leo weeps over this evil, saying, How can health be 
found in the body if the head be not sound? 5 Who, 
says St. Bernard, shall seek in a sink the limpid water 
of the spring ? Shall I, adds the saint, seek counsel 
from the man that knows not how to give counsel to 
himself? 6 Speaking of the bad example of. princes, 
Plutarch 7 says, that it poisons not a single cup, but the 
public fountain; and thus, because all draw from the 

1 " Vidit arborem pallentibus foliis marcidam, et intellexit agricola 
quia Isesuram in radicibus habet; ita, cum videris populum irreligiosum, 
sine dubio cognoscis quia Sacerdotium ejus non est sanum." Horn. 

2 De Dignit. sac. c. 5. 

3 " Omne caput languidum. ... A planta pedis usque ad verticem, 
non est in eo sanitas." Is. i. 5. 

4 " Caput enim languidum doctor est agens peccatum, cujus malum 
ad corpus pervenit." Sent. 1. 3, c. 38. 

5 " Totius familiae Domini status et ordo nutabit, si, quod re- 
quiritur in corpore, non inveniatur in capite." Epist. 87. 

6 " Quis enim in cceno fontem requirat? . . . An vero idoneum 
eum putabo, qui mihi det consilium, quod non dat sibi ?" Ojficior. 1. 

2, c. 12. 

7 Opusc. Max. cum princip. philos.. 

1 44 Material for Sermons. , [PART i. 

fountain, all are poisoned. This may be said with 
greater truth of the bad example of priests; hence 
Eugene III. has said that bad Superiors are the prin 
cipal causes of the sins of inferiors. 1 

Priests are called by St. Gregory 2 Patres Christianorum 
The Fathers of Christians. Thus also are they called 
by St. John Chrysostom, who says that a priest as the 
representative of God is bound to take care of all men, 
because he is the Father of the whole world. 3 As a 
parent, then, sins doubly when he gives bad example to 
his children, so a priest is also guilty of a double sin 
when he gives bad example to seculars, says Peter de 
Blois. 4 St. Jerome made the same remark in a letter to 
a certain bishop: " Whatever you do, all will think they 
may also do." 5 When they sin at the sight of the bad 
example of a priest, seculars, as Cesarius has observed, 
say, " Do not also priests do such things ?" 6 St. Augus 
tine puts the following words into the mouth of a secu 
lar: "Why do you reproach me ? are not priests doing 
the same? and you wish to force me not to do so ?" 7 St. 
Gregory says that when, instead of edifying the people, 
a priest gives scandal, he renders sin, in a certain man 
ner, honorable rather than an object of horror. 3 

1 " Inferiorum culpae ad nullos magis referenda? sunt, quam ad de- 
sides rectores." 6". Bernard. De Consid. 1. 3, c. 5. 

2 In Evang. horn. 17. 

3 " Quasi totius orbis pater Sacerdos est; dignum igitur est ut 
omnium curam agat, sicut ut Deus, cujus fungitur vice." In i J im. 
horn. 6. 

4 " Quid faciet laicus, nisi quod patrem suum spiritualem viderit 
facientem." Serm. 57. 

5 " Quidquid feceris, id sibi omnes faciendum putant." Ep. ad 

6 " Numquid talia clerici, etiam majoris ordinis, faciunt?" Serm. 


7 " Quid mihi loqueris ? Ipsi clerici non illud faciunt, et me cogis 
ut faciam ?" Serin. 137, E. B. 

8 " In exemplum culpa vehementer extenditur, quando, pro re- 
vereniia Ordinis, peccator honoratur." Past. p. i, c. 2. 

CHAP, viii.]- The Sin of Scandal. 145 

Such a priest, then, is at the same time a parent and 
a parricide; for, as St. Gregory says, he is the cause of 
the death of his spiritual children. " You see," says the 
saint, " what blows daily are given to the people, and 
whose fault is it but the fault of priests? We are the 
cause of the death of the people, while we should be 
their leaders to eternal life." Some one that has lost 
the divine light may say I must give an account of my 
own sins, but what have I to do with the sins of 
others? He may say what he pleases, but I exhort him 
to listen to the words of St. Jerome: "If you say I have 
enough to do with my own conscience; what do I care 
for people s talk? listen to the words of the Apostle: 
Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in 
the sight of all men"* St. Bernard says that the scan 
dalous priest kills others at the same time that he mur 
ders his own soul. 3 And in another place the saint 
writes that there is no plague more noxious to the peo 
ple than ignorance in a priest united with irregularity 
of life. 4 In another place the same saint says that in 
their sermons many priests are orthodox, but in their 
conduct they are heretics; because by their bad ex 
ample they inflict a deeper wound on religion than 
heretics do by teaching false doctrines, because acts 
have more force than words. 5 

1 "Quibus quotidie percussionibus intereat populus videtis; cujus 
hoc, nisi nostro praecipue, peccato agitur? Nos pereunti populo 
auctores mortis existimus, qui esse debuimus duces ad vitam." In 
Evang. horn. 17. 

2 "Si dixeris: Et mihi sufficit conscientia mea; non euro quid lo- 
quantur homines; audi Apostolum scribentem: Providentes bona, 
non tantum coram Deo, sed etiam coram omnibus hominibus. " 
Rom. xii. 17. 

3 "Non parcunt suis, qui non parcunt sibi, perimentes pariter et 
pereuntes." In Cant. s. 77. 

4 " Post indoctos prelates malosque, in Ecclesia, nulla pestis ad 
nocendum infirmis valentior invenitur." De Ord. vitte. c. I. 

" Multi sunt catholici prsedicando, qui hseretici sunt operando: 

146 Material for Sermons. LPART i. 

Seneca says that the way of instruction is a long and 
tedious way of learning vice or virtue; but the way of 
example is short and efficacious. 1 Hence, speaking par 
ticularly of the chastity of priests, St. Augustine has 
written : " To all chastity is very necessary, but especially 
to the ministers of Christ, whose lives should be to others 
a sermon unto salvation." 2 How can the slave of lust 
preach chastity ? says St. Peter Damian. 3 St. Jerome 
says that the very state and dress of an ecclesiastic call 
for and demand chastity. 4 What a source of scandal, 
then, to the Church to see a man with the name and 
rank of a saint give examples of vice? " No one," says 
St. Gregory, " injures the Church more than he that 
bears the name and the Order of sanctity." And must 
it not, adds St. Isidore of Pelusium, be a still more dis 
astrous evil to see a priest avail himself of his dignity 
as the arms with which he commits sin ? 6 According to 
the words of Ezechiel, such a priest renders the exalted 
dignity of his state an object of abomination: Thou hast 
made thy beauty to be abominable. 1 St. Bernard says that 
the priest that does not give good example is an ob- 

quod haeretici faciebant per prava dogmata, hoc faciunt plures hodie 
per mala exempla; et tanto graviores sunt hsereticis, quanto prseva- 
lent opera verbis." S. ad Past, in Syn. 

1 " Longum iter est per prsecepta, breve et efficax per exempla." 
Epist. 6. 

2 " Omnibus castitas pernecessaria est, sed maxime ministris Christi 
altaris, quorum vita aliorum debet esse assidua salutis prsedicatio." 
Serin. 291, E. B. app. 

3 " Qui praedicator constitutus es castitatis, non te pudet servum esse 
libidinis ?" Opnsc. 17, c. 3. 

4 " Clamat vestis clericalis, clamat status professi animi sancti- 

5 "Nemo amplius in Ecclesia nocet, quam qui, perverse agens, 
nomen vel ordinem sanctitatis habet." Past. p. I, c. 2. 

" Sacerdotii dignitate velut armis ad vitium abuti." Epist. 1. 2, 
ep. 162. 

7 " Abominabilem fecisti decorem tuum." Ezech. xvi. 25. 

CHAP, viii.] The Sin of Scandal. 147 

ject of scorn to the entire people. 1 It is not in order 
to see a priest live like worldlings; but what a scandal 
to see his conduct worse than that of seculars ? says the 
author of the Imperfect Work? And what example, 
says St. Ambrose, can the people take from you, if in 
you, who are esteemed holy, they witness actions of 
which they themselves are ashamed ? 3 

Hear ye this, O priests, says the prophet Osee, . . . for 
there is a judgment against you, because you have been a snare 
to them whom you should have watched over, and a net spread 
upon Thabor." The sportsman employs decoys, that is, 
birds that are bound so that they cannot fly away, and 
the devil employs the authors of scandal in order to 
catch souls in his net. Says St. Ephrem: When the 
soul is once caught it becomes as a snare for catching 
others." 5 Of these authors of scandal God complains 
by the prophet Jeremias, saying, For among My people 
are found wicked men, that lie in wait as fowlers, setting snares 
and traps to catch! But, says Caesar of Aries, the devil 
seeks in a special manner to employ for his decoys 
scandalous priests; hence this author calls them decoy 
birds whom the devils usually incite to catch others. 7 

1 " Aut cseteris honestiores, aut fabula omnibus sunt." De Consid. 
1. 4, c. 6. 

2 " Quomodo non sit confusio esse Sacerdotes inferiores laicis, quos 
etiam esse sequales magna confusio est?" Horn. 40. 

3 " Si, qua? in se erubescit, in te, quern reverendum arbitratur, 
offendat?" Epist. 6. 

4 " Audite hoc, Sacerdotes; . . . quia vobis judicium est, quoniam 
laqueus facti estis speculation!, et rete expansum." Os. v. I. 

6 " Cum primum captafuerit anima, ad alias decipiendas fit laqueus." 
De recta viv. rat. c. 22. 

6 " Quia inventi sunt in populo meo impii insidiantes quasi aucupes, 
laqueos ponentes et pedicas ad capiendos viros." Jer. v. 26. 

1 "Quomodo aucupes facere solent, qui columbas, quas prius 
ceperint, excaecant et surdas faciunt, ut, dum ad illas reliquae co- 
lumba? convenerint, praparatis retibus capiantur." Horn. 35. 

1 48 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

A certain author attests that in ancient times when a 
simple ecclesiastic passed by the way all rose up and 
besought him to recommend them to God. Is this done 
at the present day? Alas! Jeremias weeps, and says: 
How is the gold become dim, the finest color is changed, the 
stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of every street ? 1 
The gold, according to the exposition of Cardinal Hugo, 
signifies ecclesiastics, in some of whom it has lost its 
beautiful color: it has ceased to be ruddy with holy 
charity; it has grown dim, and no longer shines with 
the splendor of brilliant examples. The stones of the 
sanctuary, that is, says St. Jerome, many of the priests, 
are scattered through the streets, and serve only to pre 
cipitate poor seculars into vice. This passage is thus 
explained also by St. Gregory: "The gold is obscured, 
for the priests dishonor their lives by the baseness of 
their works. It has lost its beautiful color, since their 
shameful actions have covered with reproach the sacer 
dotal dignity. The stones of the sanctuary are scattered 
through the streets, because recollection and the holy 
exercises have given way to dissipation and worldly 
occupations, so that one finds really no secular enter 
prise to which the priest has not consecrated his energy." 2 

The sons of My mother have fought against Me. 3 Origen 
applies this passage to the disorderly priest, who, he 
says, arms himself by his scandals against his own 
mother, the Church. St. Jerome says that the Church 

1 "Quomodo obscuratum est aurum, mutatus est color optimus, dis- 
persi sunt lapides sanctuarii in capita omnium platearum!" Lam. iv. i. 

2 "Aurum quippe obscuratum est, quia Sacerdotum vita, per acti- 
ones infirmas, ostenditur reproba; color optimus est, quia 
ille sanctitatis habitus, per abjecta opera, ad ignominiam despectionis 
venit; dispersi sunt lapides sanctuarii in capite omnium platearum, 
quia hi qui, per vitam et orationem, intus semper esse debuerant, 
foris vacant. Ecce jam pene nulla est saeculi actio, quam non Sacer- 
dotes administrat." In Evang. horn. 17. 

3 "Filii matris meae pugnaverunt contra me." Cant. \. 5. 

CHAP, vni.] The Sin of Scandal. 149 

is laid waste by the scandalous lives of some of her 
priests. 1 Hence on the words of Ezechias, Behold in 
peace is My bitterness most bitter? St. Bernard, speaking in 
the name of the Church, said: " Now we have peace 
from pagans, peace from heretics, not, however, from 
our own children." 5 At present, says the holy Church, 
I am not persecuted by the pagans, for the tyrants have 
ceased, nor by the heretics, because there are no new 
heresies; but I am persecuted by the ecclesiastic, who by 
his scandals robs me of so many souls. " I think," says 
St. Gregory, "that no one injures the interests of God 
as the priests do whom he has himself charged with the 
duty of drawing souls from vice, and who by their bad 
example precipitate them into it." 4 

By his bad example the scandalous priest brings dis 
grace even on his own ministry, that is, on his sermons, 
Masses, and all his functions. Against this the Apostle 
has warned priests: Giving no offence to any man, that our 
ministry be not blamed, but in all things let us exhibit our 
selves as the ministers of God? Salvian says that through 
certain priests the law of Jesus Christ is dishonored. 6 
St. Bernardine of Sienna writes that many, seeing the 
bad example of the scandalous ecclesiastic, begin even 
to waver in faith, and thus abandon themselves to vice, 
despising the sacraments, hell, and heaven. 7 

1 " Propter vitia Sacerdotum Dei, sanctuarium destitutum est." 
Ep. ad Sabiniam. 

2 " Ecce in pace amaritudo mea amarissima." Is. xxxviii. 17. 

3 " Pax a paganis, pax ab hsereticis, sed non profecto a filiis." In 
Cant. s. 33. 

4 "Nullum puto ab aliis majus prsejudicium, quam a Sacerdotibus, 
tolerat Deus, quando eos, quos ad aliorum correctionem posuit, dare 
de se exempla pravitatis cernit." In Evang. horn. 17. 

5 " Nemini dantesullam offensionem, ut non vituperetur ministerium 
nostrum; sed in omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei minis- 
tros." 1 Cor. vi. 3. 

6 "In nobis lex Christiana maledicitur." 

1 " Plurimi, considerantes cleri sceleratam vitam, ex hoc vacillantes, 

1 50 Material for Sermons. [PART \. 

St. John Chrysostom writes that the infidels, seeing 
the vices of certain priests, would say that the God of 
the Christians either was not the true God, or that he 
was not a God of sanctity. For, said they, were he 
holy, how could he tolerate the sins of his priests? 1 In 
the instruction on the Mass we shall relate more at 
length the fact of a heretic who had resolved to abjure 
his errors, but being afterwards present at a Mass cele 
brated in a scandalous manner, he determined to remain 
in his heresy, and said that even the Pope did not be 
lieve in the Mass, for if he did he would condemn such 
priests to be burnt alive. St. Jerome said that among 
those that had infected the Church and perverted the 
people, he found in history the names only of priests. 2 
And Peter de Blois says: " On account of the negligence 
of priests heresies came into existence." 1 In another 
place he says: " On account of the sins of priests the 
holy Church of God has been covered with opprobrium 
and trodden in the dust." 4 St. Bernard was of opinion 
that greater injury is done to the Church by scandalous 
priests than even by the heretics; because we may guard 
against heretics, but how can we guard against the priest 
of whose ministry we must necessarily avail ourselves ? 
" See," says the holy Doctor, " what poison is now rav 
aging the whole body of the Church ! The more it ex 
tends the less it can be checked, and the greater the 

imo multoties deficientes in fide, sacramenta despiciunt, vitia non 
evitant, non horrent inferos, coelestia minima concupiscunt." T. I. 
s. 19, a. 2, c. i. 

1 " Qualis est eorum Deus, qui talia agunt? numquid sustineret eos 
talia facientes. nisi consentiret eorum operibus?" Horn. 10. 

2 " Veteres scrutans historias, invenire non possum scidisse Eccle- 
siam, et populos seduxisse, praeter eos qui Sacerdotes a Deo positi 
fuerunt." In Oseam, c. 9. 

3 " Propter negligentiam Sacerdotum, haereses pullularunt." 

4 " Propter peccata nostra (Sacerdotum), data est in conculcationem 
et opprobrium Sancta Ecclesia Christi." Serin. 60. 

CHAP. viii. i The Sin of Scandal. 151 

danger of becoming more hidden. Let a heretic preach 
impious doctrines, and he will be expelled; let him have 
recourse to violence, and we shall flee from him. But 
now how can we reject or expel priests? We need 
them, and all are our enemies." 

Oh ! ho w great the punishment which is reserved for 
the scandalous priest! If against every secular that 
gives scandal vengeance has been threatened, Woe to that 
man by whom the scandal coineth? how much more tremend 
ous the scourge that shall fall on the scandalous priest 
whom God has chosen from among all men for his own 
minister! He chose him out of all flesh? Jesus Christ has 
chosen him to bring forth fruit by saving souls. / have 
chosen you, and have appointed you, that you should go, and should 
bring forth fruit* And by bad example he robs Jesus 
Christ of souls redeemed with his blood. St. Gregory 
says that such a priest merits as many deaths as he gives 
examples of vice. 5 Speaking especially of priests, our 
Lord said to St. Bridget: "Upon them greater maledic 
tion will come, because by their conduct they damn not 
only themselves, but also others." To them is intrusted 
the care of cultivating the vineyard of the Lord; but he 
casts out of his vineyard the scandalous priest, and 
places in his stead others that will bring forth good 
fruit: He will bring those evil men to an evil end: and will let 

1 " Serpit hodie putida tabes per omne corpus Ecclesiae, et, quo 
latius, eo desperatius, eoque periculosius quo interius; narn, si insur- 
geret apertus inimicus haereticus, mitteretur foras; si violentus inimi- 
cus, absconderet se ab eo; nunc vero, quern ejiciet, aut aquoabscondet 
se ? omnes necessarii, et omnes adversarii." In Cant. s. 33. 

2 " Vae homini illi per quern scandalum venit." Malt, xviii. 7. 

3 " Elegit eum ex omni came !" Ecclus. xlv. 4. 

4 " Elegi vos et posui vos, ut eatis et fructum afferatis." John, xv. 16. 

5 " Si perversa perpetrant, tot mortibus digni sunt, quot ad subditos 
suos perditionis exempla transmittunt." Past. p. 3, c. i, adm. 5. 

6 " Ipsis erit amplior maledictio, quia se vita sua perdunt, et alios." 
Kev. 1. 4, c. 132. 

152 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

out His vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render Him 
tJie fruit in due season? Alas! what shall become of the 
scandalous priest on the day of judgment? I will, says 
the Lord, meet them as the b-:ar that is robbed of her whelps? 
With what rage does the bear rush on the sportsman 
that has killed or stolen her whelps ! It is thus God has 
declared that he will meet on the day of judgment the 
priest that has destroyed instead of saving souls. And 
if, says St. Augustine, we shall scarcely be able to give 
an account of ourselves, what shall become of the priest 
that shall have to render an account of the souls he has 
sent to hell? 3 And St. John Chrysostom says, " If priests 
sin, all the people are led to sin. Hence every one must 
render an account of his own sins; but the priests are 
also responsible for the sins of others." Oh! how many 
seculars, how many peasants, how many weak and tender 
women, shall cover the priest with shame and confusion 
in the valley of Josaphat ! " The layman," says St. John 
Chrysostom, " will on the day of judgment receive the 
priestly stole, but the sinful priest, stripped of his dig 
nity, will have to take his place among infidels and 
heretics." " 

Let us, then, dearly beloved priests, guard against 
bringing to hell by our bad example the souls for whose 
salvation God has placed us in the world. And for this 

1 " Malos male perdet, et vineam suam locabit aliis agricolis, qui 
reddant ei fructum temporibus suis." Matt. xxi. 41. 

2 " Occurram eis quasi ursa, raptis catulis." Os. xiii. 8. 

3 " Si pro se unusquisque vix poterit in die judicii rationem reddere, 
quid de Sacerdotibus futurum est, a quibus sunt omnium animse requi- 
rendae?" Serm. 287, E. B. app. 

4 " Si Sacerdotes fuerint in peccatis, totus populus convertitur ad 
peccandum; ideo, unusquisque pro suo peccato reddet rationem, Sa 
cerdotes autem pro omnium peccatis." Horn. 38. 

b " Laicus, in die judicii, stolam sacerdotalem accipiet; Sacerdos 
autem peccator spoliabitur sacerdotii dignitate quam habuit, et erit 
inter infideles et hypocritas." Horn. 40. 

CHAP, viii.] The Sin of Scandal. 153 

purpose we must avoid not only actions that are in them 
selves unlawful, but also those that have the appearance 
of evil. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves. 1 
The Council of Agatha ordains " that servant maids be 
removed from the houses of priests." 2 To keep young 
servant maids, though they were not an occasion of evil 
(which is impossible), has at least the appearance of evil, 
and may give scandal to others. Hence the Apostle has 
written that we should sometimes abstain from what is 
lawful, lest it become a stumbling-block to the weak? It is 
also necessary to abstain with great care from giving 
expression to certain worldly maxims; such as, we must 
not allow others to take precedence; we must enjoy the 
present life; happy the. man that abounds in riches; 
God is full of mercy and has pity on us, even on sinners 
that persist in sin. But how scandalous would it be to 
praise persons for sinful conduct ! For example, for 
resenting an injury, or for maintaining a dangerous 
friendship. " It is worse," says St. John Chrysostom, 
" to praise those that do wrong, than to do wrong our 
selves. " He that has hitherto had the misfortune of 
giving scandal, or of being the occasion of scandal, is 
bound under pain of grievous sin to repair it by external 
good example. 

1 " Ab omni specie mala abstinete vos." I Thess. v. 22. 
2 "Ut ancillse a mansione, in qua clericus manet, removeantur." 
Cone. Agath c. n. 

3 " Ne forte, . , . offendiculum fiat infirmis." I Cor. viii. 9. 

4 " Longe pejus est, collaudare delinquentes, quam delinquere." 
De Saul et David, horn. 2. 

154 Material for Sermons. [PART 



(In giving the spiritual exercises to the clergy, the sermon on zeal 
is the most necessary, and may be the most useful of all; for if one of 
the priests who assist at the exercises resolves (as we ought to hope 
through the divine grace) to employ himself in procuring the salva 
tion of souls, God will gain not one but a hundred and a thousand 
souls, who will be saved through the labors of that priest.) 

WE shall speak in this chapter: 

1. Of the obligation of priests to labor for the salva 
tion of souls. 

2. Of the pleasure that a priest who seeks the salva 
tion of souls gives to God. 

3. Of the eternal glory and the great reward that a 
priest who labors for the salvation of souls may expect 
from God. 


The Obligation of Every Priest to Labor for the Salvation of 


" In the world there are at the same time many and 
few priests many in name, but few in reality," says 
the author of the " Imperfect Work." The world is filled 
with priests, but few of them labor to be priests; that is, 
to fulfil the duty and obligations of a priest, or to save 

The dignity of priests is great, because they are the 
coadjutors of God. " We are God s coadjutors." 2 And 

"Multi Sacerdotes, et pauci Sacerdotes: multi nomine, pauci 
opere." Ifoin. 43. 

-i " Dei enim sumus adjutores." I Cor. iii. 9. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 155 

what greater dignity, says the Apostle, than that of co 
operating with Jesus Christ in saving the souls which he 
has redeemed ? Hence St. Denis the Areopagite calls 
the dignity of the priest a divine dignity, and even the 
most divine of all divine things. 1 For, as St. Augustine 
says, it requires more power to sanctify a sinner than to 
create heaven and earth. 2 

St. Jerome used to call priests the saviours of the 
world. 3 St. Prosper calls them the administrators of 
the royal house of God. 4 And, long before, Jeremias 
called them the fishers and sportsmen of the Lord: 
Behold, I will send many fishers, saith the Lord, and after 
this I will send many hunters, and they shall liunt them from 
every mountain and from every hill, and out of the holes of the 
rocks? St. Ambrose " explains this passage of priests 
who gain to God the most abandoned sinners, and de 
liver them from all their vices. The mountain signifies 
pride; the hill, pusillanimity; and the holes of the rocks, 
bad habits, which bring with them darkness of under 
standing and coldness of heart. Peter de Blois says 
that in the work of creation God had no one to assist 
him, but in the mystery of redemption he wished to 
have coadjutors. 7 Who on this earth is superior to the 
priest? "To the king are intrusted earthly things; to 
me, a priest, heavenly things," 8 says St. Chrysostom. 

1 See page 46. 

2 See page 35. 

3 " Sacerdotes Dominus mundi esse voluit salvatores." InAbdiam, 

4 " Dispensatores regiae domus." De vita cont. 1. 2, c. 2. 

" Ecce ego mittam piscatores multos, dicit Dominus, et piscabuntur 
eos; et post haec, mittam eis multos venatores, et venabuntur eos de 
omni monte, et de omni colle, et de cavernis petrarum." -Jer, xvi. 16. 
6 In Ps. 1 1 8, s. 6. 

"In opere creationis, non fuit qui adjuvaret; in mysterio vero 
redemptionis, voluit habere coadjutores." Set in. 47. 

" Regi, quse hie sunt, commissa sunt; mini coelestia, mihi Sacer- 
doti." De Vcrbis Is. horn. 4. 

156 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

And Innocent III. adds: "Although the dignity of the 
Blessed Virgin was greater than that of the apostles, 
yet to these, and not to her, were given the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven." 

St. Peter Damian calls the priest the leader of the 
people of God. 2 St. Bernard styles him the guardian of 
the Church, which is the spouse of Jesus Christ. 3 St. 
Clement, an earthly god. 4 For by the ministry of 
priests the saints are formed on earth. St. Flavian 
says that all the hope and salvation of men is placed 
in the hands of priests. 5 And St. John Chrysostom 
writes, " Our parents generate us for the present life, 
priests for life eternal." 1 Without priests, says St. 
Ignatius Martyr, there would be no saints on this earth. 7 
And, long before, holy Judith said that on priests de 
pends the salvation of the people. You are the ancients 
among the people of God, and their very soul resteth upon you? 
The priest is the author of holiness of life in seculars, 
and on him depends their salvation. Hence St. Clement 
has said: " Honor priests as those that effect good con 
duct in others." 9 

Great, then, beyond measure, is the dignity and office 
of priests, but great also is their obligation to labor for 

1 "Licet Beatissima Virgo excellentior fuerit Apostolis, non tamen 
illi, sed istis Dominus claves regni coelorum commisit." Cap. Nova 
quccdam, de Pan. et Rem. 

2 "Sacerdos, dux exercitus Domini." Opusc. 25, c. 2. 
"Sponsae Custodem." In Cant. s. 77. 

4 "Post Deum, terrenus deus." Const. Apost. 1. 2, c. 26. 

5 " Nihil honorabilius Sacerdotibus; omnis enim spes atque salus in 
iis est." Ep. ad S. Leon. 

6 " Parentes in prsesentem, Sacerdotes in vitam aeternam nos gene- 
rant." De Sacerd. \. 3. 

"Absque Sacerdotibus, nulla sanctorum congregatio." Ep. ad 

"Vos estis presbyteri in populo Dei, et ex vobis pendet anima 
illorum." Judith, viii. 21. 

9 " Honorate Sacerdotes, ut bene vivendi auctores." 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 1 5 7 

the salvation of souls. For, says the apostle, every high- 
priest taken from among men, in the things that appertain to 
God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins. 1 He 
afterwards proceeds to say: Who can have compassion on 
them that are ignorant. The priest, then, is appointed by 
God as well to honor him by sacrifices, as also to save 
souls by instructing and converting sinners. 

A kingly priesthood^ . . . a purchased people* The order 
of ecclesiastics differs altogether from that of seculars. 
The latter attend to the things of the world and to them 
selves, but the former are a purchased people; a people 
whose business it is to gain not the goods of this earth, 
but the souls of men, says St. Ambrose. 4 St. Antonine 
says that the very name of the priest explains the nature 
of his office, for sacerdos signifies " he that teaches holy 
things." 5 And St. Thomas says, "He that distributes 
holy things." 6 Honorius of Autun says, presbyter signi- 
nifies " he that shows the way from exile to our Country. " ; 
St. Ambrose calls priests the " leaders of the flock of 
Christ." Hence the saint says in another place: " May 
the name and the works agree, so that the name may not 
remain a vain title and may not become the cause of 
terrible crime." 1 If, then, the meaning of the words 
sacerdos and presbyter is to assist souls in order to save 

1 " Omnis namque Pontifex ex hominibus assumptus, pro hominibus 
constituitur in iis quae sunt ad Deum, ut offerat dona et sacrificia pro 
peccatis." Heb. v. i. 

2 "Qui condolere possit iis qui ignorant et errant." Ibid. v. 2. 

3 "Regale sacerdotium, . . . populus acquisitions. " i Pet. ii. 9. 

4 " Clericatus officium est quaestus, non pecuniarum, sed animarum." 
Serm. 78. 

6 "Sacerdos, id est, sacra docens." Summ. p. 3, tit. 14, c. 7, i. 

6 "Sacerdos, quasi sacra dans." P. 3, q. 22, a. i. 

7 " Presbyter dicitur praebens iter populo de exsilio ad patriam." 
Gemma, an. 1. i, c. 181. 

8 "Duces et Rectores gregis Christi." De Dignit. sac. c. 2. 

9 " Nomen congruat actioni, ne sit nomen inane, crimen immane." 
-Ibid. c. 3. 

158 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

and conduct them to heaven, let the name and conduct, 
says St. Ambrose, correspond; that the name may not 
be empty, and that the honor of the office may not be 
come a source of guilt. " The misery of the flock is the 
shame of the shepherd," adds the same holy Doctor. 

If, then, says St. Jerome, you wish to perform the office 
of a priest, let the salvation of others be the gain of your 
soul. 2 And St. Anselm holds that the proper office of a 
priest is to preserve souls from the corruption of the 
world, and to lead them to God. 3 Hence the Lord has 
separated priests from the rest of mankind, that they 
may save themselves and others. 4 Zeal, as St. Augustine 
says, 5 springs from love. Hence, as charity obliges us 
to love God and our neighbor, so zeal obliges us first to 
procure the glory and to prevent the dishonor of God, 
and afterwards to seek the welfare and to avert the in 
jury of our neighbor. 

It is useless to say, I am a simple priest; I have not 
the care of souls; it is enough for me to attend to my 
self. No: every priest is bound to attend, in the way in 
which he can, to the salvation of souls, according to 
their necessity. And in a district in which souls are in 
grievous spiritual necessity for want of confessors a 
simple priest is, as we- have proved in our Moral Theol 
ogy, 6 bound to hear confessions; and if he has not the 
necessary qualifications, he is obliged to qualify himself 
for the office of confessor. This is the opinion that the 
learned Father Pavone of the Society of Jesus has held 

1 " Detrimentum pecoris pastoris ignominia est." Reg. Monach. de 
Laitde vit. 

2 " Si officium vis exercere presbyteri, aliorum salutem fac lucrum 
animse tuse." Ep. ad Pattliit. 

3 " Sacerdotis proprium est, animas e mundo rapere, et dare Deo." 

4 " De medio populi segregantur, ut, non solum seipsos, verum et 
populum tueantur." DC Dignit. cler. c. 2. 

5 In Ps. 118, s. 30. 

6 Theolog. Moral. 1. 6, n. 625. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 1 59 

in his works, and not without reason; for as God has 
sent Jesus Christ to save the world, so Jesus Christ has 
appointed priests to convert sinners. As the Father hath 
sent me, I also send you? Hence the Council of Trent 
ordains that they that wish to receive priesthood should 
prove themselves fit for the administration of the sacra 
ments. 2 For this end, says the angelic Doctor, God has 
constituted the order of priests, that they may sanctify 
others by the administration of the sacraments. 3 And 
priests are specially appointed to administer the sacra 
ment of penance. For immediately after the words: As 
the Father hath sent me, etc.? St. John has added: When He 
had said this, He breathed on them; and He said to them: Re 
ceive ye the Holy Ghost? Since, then, it is the office of a 
priest to absolve from sins, one of his principal obliga 
tions is to qualify himself for that office, at least when 
there is necessity, that he may not receive the reproach 
contained in the words of St. Paul to his companions in 
the priesthood: And we helping to exhort you* that you receive 
not the grace of God in vain. 6 

Priests, as Venerable Bede writes, are destined by God 
to be the salt of the earth, that they may preserve souls 
from the corruption of sins. 7 But if salt do not perform 
the office of salt, it is fit only to be cast out of the house 
of the Lord, and to be trodden by all. 8 

1 "Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." /<?/*;/, xx. 21. 

2 " Ad ministranda Sacramenta idonei comprobentur." Sess. 23, 
cap. 14, de Kef. 

3 "Ideo posuit Ordinem in eo, ut quidam aliis Sacramenta tra- 
derent." Suppl. q. 34, a. i. 
4 "Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." -John, xx. 21. 

" Hser cum dixisset, insufflavit, et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum 
Sanctum; quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis." Ibid. xx. 22. 

" Adjuvantes autem, exhortamur ne in vacuum gratiam Dei reci- 
piatis." 2 Cor. vi. i. 

"Ut sales, condiant animos ad corruptionis sanitatem." 

"Vos estis sal terras. Quod si sal evanuerit, in quo salietur? ad 
nihilum valet ultra, nisi ut mittatur foras, et conculcetur ab homini- 
bus." Matt. v. 13. 

160 Material for Sermons. LPARTI. 

Every priest, says St. John Chrysostom, is, as it were, 
the father of the whole world, and therefore should have 
care of all the souls to whose salvation he can co-operate 
by his labors. 1 Besides, priests are appointed by God 
as physicians to cure every soul that is infirm; thus 
Origen has called them " Physicians of souls," 2 and St. 
Jerome, " Spiritual physicians." :i Hence St. Bonaventure 
says, " If the physician flees from the sick, who will cure 
them?" 4 

Priests are also called the walls of the Church: "The 
Church has her walls," says St. Ambrose, " that is, her 
apostolic men." ! And the author of the " Imperfect 
Work" says, "Her walls are the priests." They are 
also called the stones that support the Church of God, 7 
and by St. Eucherius they are called the pillars that 
sustain the tottering world. 8 Finally, they are called by 
St. Bernard the very house of God. Hence we may say 
with St. John Chrysostom, that if a part of the house 
fall, the injury may be easily repaired; 9 but if the walls 
fall, if the foundations and the pillars that sustain the 
edifice give way; finally, if the whole house tumbles to 
the ground, how can the loss be ever repaired ? More 
over, priests are called by the same St. John Chrysostom, 
the husbandmen of the vineyard of the Lord. 10 But, O 

1 " Quasi totius orbis pater Sacerdos est; dignum igitur est ut om 
nium curam agat, sicut et Deus, cujus fungitur vice." In i Tim. 
horn. 6. 

5 "Medicos animarum." 

3 "Medicos spirituales." 

4 " Si medicus fugit aegrotos, quis curabit?" De Sex Alls Scr. c. 5. 

5 " Habet et Ecclesia muros suos." In Ps. 118, s. 22. 

6 " Muri illius sunt Sacerdotes." Horn. 10. 

7 " Lapides sanctuarii." Lam. iv. i. 

8 " Columnar sanctorum, merita Sacerdotum sunt, qui nutantis mundi 
statum orationibus sustinent." Horn, de Dcdic. eccl. 

9 " Si pars domus fuerit corrupta, facilis est reparatio." Horn. 47. 

10 " Coloni populum, quasi vineam, colentes." Horn. 40. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 161 

God ! exclaims St. Bernard with tears, the husbandmen 
sweat and labor the whole day in the cultivation of their 
own vineyards. 1 But what are the occupations of priests 
whom God has appointed to cultivate his vineyard ? 
They are, continues the saint, always corrupted with 
idleness and worldly pleasures, 2 

The harvest is indeed great, but the laborers-are feu>. 3 No : 
the bishops and parish priests are not sufficient for the 
spiritual wants of the people. If God had not destined 
other priests to assist souls, he should not have suffi 
ciently provided for his Church. St. Thomas 4 says that 
the twelve apostles destined by Jesus Christ for the con 
version of the world represented the bishops, and the 
seventy-two disciples represented all priests ordained 
for the salvation of souls, the fruit which the Redeemer 
demands of his priests: I have chosen you that you should 
go, and should bring forth fruit!" Hence St. Augustine 
calls priests the administrators of the interests of 
God. 6 To priests has been intrusted the duty of ex 
tirpating vice and pernicious maxims from the minds of 
the people, and of infusing into them the virtues of the 
Gospel and the maxims of eternity. On the day God 
raises a man to the priesthood he says to him what he 
said to Jeremiah: Lo, I have set thee thus over the nations^ 
and over kingdoms, to root up and pull down, and to waste 
and to destroy, and to build and to plant. 1 

I do not know how a priest can be excused from sin, 
who sees the people of the district in grievous neces- 

1 " Sudant agricolae, putant et fodiunt vinitores." 

2 " Torpent otio, madent deliciis." Declam. n. TO, n. 

3 " Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci." Matt. ix. 37. 

4 2. 2, q. 184, a. 6. 

5 " Posui vos, ut eatis et fructum afferatis." John, xv. 16. 

6 " Eorum quae Dei sunt negotiatores." Ad Frat. in er. s. 36. 

7 " Ecce constitui te hodie super gentes et super regna, ut evellas, 
et destruas, et disperdas, et dissipes, et aedifices, et plantes." Jer. i. 

1 62 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

sity, and is able to assist them by teaching the truths of 
faith, or by preaching the divine word, and even by 
hearing confessions, and through sloth neglects to give 
them spiritual aid ? I know not, I say, how he can 
escape on the day of judgment the reproof and chastise 
ment threatened against the slothful servant who hid 
the talent given to him, that he might trade with it. The 
master gave him that talent that he might trade with it, 
but he hid it; and when the master demanded an ac 
count of -the profit he had received from it, he answered: 
I hid thy talent in the earth ; behold, here thou hast that which 
is thine. 1 But for hiding the talent the master reproved 
him, saying: What! I have given you a talent that you 
might trade with it; this is the talent, but where are the 
profits ? He then took the talent from him, commanded 
it to be given to another, and ordered him to be cast 
into exterior darkness: Take ye away therefore the talent 
from him, and give it him that hath ten talents; . . . and the 
unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness? To 
be cast into exterior darkness means, according to the 
commentators, to be sent into the fire of hell, which 
gives no light, and to be excluded from heaven. 

This passage is applied by St. Ambrose, 3 Calmet, 
Cornelius a Lapide, and Tirinus to those that can pro 
cure the salvation of souls, and neglect to do it, either 
through negligence or through a vain fear of commit- 
ing sin. " This," says Father Cornelius, " is advice to 
those who through indifference or a vain fear of sin 
ning do not devote to the salvation of their neighbor 
the lights, the talents that they receive from God; no 
doubt Christ will ask of them an account on the day of 

1 "Abscond! talentum tuum in terra; ecce habes quod tuum est." 
Matt. xxv. 25. 

2 " Tollite itaque ab eo talentum, et date ei qui habet decem talenta; 
. . . et inutilem servum ejicite in tenebras exteriores." 

3 De Dignit. sac. c. I. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 163 

judgment." 1 And St. Gregory says: "Hear! whoever 
does not wish to employ his talents will be cast out by a 
sentence of damnation." a Peter de Blois writes: " Who 
ever employs God s gifts for the good of others deserves 
to have a greater measure of what he already possesses; 
but from him who hides the Lord s talent will be taken 
what he seems to possess." 1 St. John Chrysostom says 
that he cannot conceive how a priest can be saved who 
does nothing for the salvation of his neighbor. 4 After 
having mentioned the parable of the talent, he says that 
for a priest the neglect of having employed the talent 
given to him is criminal, and shall be the cause of his 
damnation. 5 Addressing those who say, " I am satisfied 
if only I save my soul," St. Augustine says, " Do you 
not recall to mind the servant who buried his talent ?" 

St. Prosper says that to save his own soul it will not 
be enough for a priest to lead a holy life, for he shall be 
damned with those that are lost through his fault. 7 In 
one of the apostolical canons we read the following words: 

" Notent hoc qui ingenio, doctrina, aliisque dotibus sibi a Deo 
datis, non utuntur ad suam aliorumque salutem, ob desidiam vel me- 
tum peccandi; ab his enim rationem exposcet Christus in die judicii." 
In Matt. 25, 1 8. 

2 " Audiant quod talentum qui erogare noluit, cum sententia dam- 
nationis amisit." Past. p. 3, c. I. adm. 26. 

3 "Qui Dei donum in utilitatem alienam communicat, plenius 
meretur habere quod habet; qui autem talentum Domini abscondit, 
quod videtur habere, auferetur ab eo." DC Inst. Episc. 

" Neque id mihi persuasi, salvum fieri quemquam posse, qui pro 
proximi sui salute nihil laboris impendent." 

" Neque juvabit talentum sibi traditum non imminuisse; immo hoc 
ille nomine periit, quod non auxisset et duplicasset." DC Sacerd. 1. 6. 

"Sufficit mihi anima mea. Eia, non tibi venit in mentem servus 
ille qui abscondit talentum." In Jos. tr. 10. 

"Ille cui dispensatio verbi commissa est, etiam si sancte vivat, et 
tamen perdite viventes arguere, aut erubescat aut metuat, cum omni 
bus qui eo tacente perierunt, peril; et quid ei proderit non puniri suo, 
qui puniendus est alieno peccaio!" De Vit. cont. 1. i, c. 20. 

164 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

" The priest that does not take care of the clerics or of 
the people should be punished, and if he perseveres in 
his carelessness, let him be deposed." Why, says St. 
Leo, should you take the honor of the priesthood if you 
will not labor for the salvation of souls ? 2 The Council 
of Cologne declared that if a person take the Order of 
priesthood without the intention of performing the 
office of vicar of Jesus Christ, or of saving souls, a great 
and certain chastisement is reserved for him, as for a 
wolf and a robber, which he is called in the Gospel. 3 

St. Isidore does not hesitate to charge with mortal 
sin the priest that neglects to instruct the ignorant and 
to convert sinners. 4 And St. John Chrysostom says, 
" Not on account of their own, but on account of the 
sins of others that they did not prevent, priests are 
often condemned to hell." r St. Thomas, speaking of 
a simple priest, says that the priest that fails either 
through negligence or ignorance to assist souls, renders 
himself accountable to God for all the souls that are 
lost through his fault/ St. John Chrysostom says the 
same: " If priests take care only of their own souls, and 

1 " Presbyter qui cleri vel populi curam non gerit, segregatur; et si 
in secordia perseveret, deponatur." Can. 57. 

2 "Qua conscientia honorem sibi debltum vendicant, qui pro ani- 
mabus sibi creditis non laborant." Ep. ad Ttirrib. c. 16. 

3 " Sacerdotio initiandus non alio affectu accedere debet, quam ad 
submittendos humeros publico muneri vice Christi in Ecclesia. Qui 
alio affectu sacros Ordines ambiunt, hos Scriptura lupos et latrones 
appellat. . . . Quod ingens ultio tandem certo subsequetur." 

4 " Sacerdotes pro populorum iniquitate damnantur, si eos aut 
ignorantes non erudiant aut peccantes non arguant." Sent. 1. 3, c. 

5 " Snepe non damnantur propriis peccatis, sed alienis quae non 

6 " Si enim Sacerdos, ex ignorantia vel negligentia, non exponat 
populo viam salutis, reus erit apud Deum animarum illarum quse sub 
ipso perierunt." De Officio Sac. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 165 

neglect the souls of others, they will be condemned to 
hell with the damned." ] 

A certain priest in Rome felt great fears at death for 
his eternal salvation, although he had led a life of retire 
ment and piety. Being asked why he was so much 
afraid, he answered: " I am afraid, because I have not 
labored for the salvation of souls." He had reason to 
tremble, since the Lord employs priests to save souls, 
and to rescue them from vice. Hence, if a priest do not 
fulfil this duty, he must render to God an account of all 
the souls that are lost through his fault: If when I say to 
the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; thou declare it not to him, 
nor speak to him, that he may be converted from his wicked 
way ana live; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but 
I will require his blood at thy hand? Thus, says St. Greg 
ory, speaking of idle priests, they shall be accountable 
before God for the souls whom they could assist, and 
who are lost through their negligence. 3 

Jesus Christ has redeemed souls with the price of his 
blood: For you are bought with a great price? But these 
souls the Redeemer has intrusted to the care of priests. 
Unhappy me, said St. Bernard, when he saw himself a 
priest, if I be negligent in taking care of this deposit; 
that is, of the souls whom the Redeemer considered to 
be more precious than his own blood. 5 Seculars have 
to render an account of their own sins, but priests must 

1 " Si Sacerdos suam tantum disposuerit salvare animam, et alienas 
neglexerit, cum impiis detrudetur in gehennam." 

2 "Si, dicente me adimpium: Morte morieris; non annuntiaveris 
ei, neque locutus fueris ut avertatur a via sua impia, et vivat, ipse 
impius in iniquitate sua morietur, sanguinem autem ejus de manu tua 
requiram." Ezech. iii. 18. 

" Ex tantis procul dubio rei sunt, quantis, venientes ad publicum, 
prodesse potuerunt." Past. p. i, c. 5. 

4 " Empti enim estis pretio magno." i Cor. vi. 20. 

5 " Si depositum, quod sibi Christus sanguine proprio pretiosius 
iudicavit x contigerit negligentius custodire." In Adv* Dom* s. 3. 

1 66 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

render an account of the sins of all, says the author of 
the Imperfect Work. 1 And before him the apostle said: 
For they watch as being to render an account of your souls? 
Thus the sins of others are imputed to the priest that 
neglects to prevent them, says St. John Chrysostom. 3 
Hence St. Augustine has said: " If on the day of judg 
ment one can scarcely render an account of one s own soul, 
how will the priest fare if he has to render an account of 
all sins?" 4 Speaking of those that become priests not to 
save souls, but to secure a more comfortable means of 
living, St. Bernard says, Oh, how much better would it 
have been for them to labor in the field, or to beg, than 
to have taken to the priesthood! On the day of judg 
ment they shall hear complaints against them from so 
many souls that have been damned through their sloth. 5 


The Pleasure that a Priest who Labors for the Salvation of 
Souls gives to God. 

To understand how ardently God desires the salvation 
of souls, it is enough to consider what he has done in 
the work of the redemption of man. Jesus Christ clearly 
expressed this desire when he said: / have a baptism, 
wherewith I am to be baptized ; and how am I straitened until 
it be accomplished? He said that he felt as if swooning 

1 " Unusquisque pro suo peccato reddet rationem; Sacerdotes, pro 
omnium peccatis." Horn. 38. 

2 " Ipsi enim pervigilant, quasi rationem pro animabus vestris red- 
dituri." Heb. xiii. 17. 

3 " Quod alii peccant, illi imputatur." In Act. horn. 3. 

4 "Si pro se unusquisque vix poterit, in die judicii, rationem red- 
dere, quid de Sacerdotibus futurum est, a quibus sunt omnium animse 
requirendre? Serm. 287, R. B. app. 

6 " Bonum erat magis fodere, aut etiam mendicare, Venient, veni- 
ent ante tribunal Christi; audietur populorum querela, quorum vixere 
stipendiis, nee diluerunt peccata !" Declam. n. 19. 

6 " Baptismo autem habeo baptizari; et quomodo coarctor usque- 
dum perficiatur ?." Luke, xii. 5Ov. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 167 

away through the ardor with which he wished to see the 
work of redemption accomplished, that men might be 
saved. From this St. John Chrysostom justly infers, 
that there is nothing more acceptable to God than the 
salvation of souls. 1 And before him St. Justin said: 
" Nothing is so pleasing to God as to labor to make 
others better." 2 Our Lord once said to Bernard Col- 
nado, a priest who had labored much for the conversion 
of sinners: " Labor for the salvation of sinners, for this 
is what is most pleasing to me." : This is so dear to 
God, adds Clement of Alexandria, that the salvation of 
men appears to be his sole concern. 4 Hence, addressing 
a priest, St. Laurence Justinian said: "If you wish to 
honor God, you can do no better than labor in behalf 
of the salvation of souls." 

St. Bernard says that in the eyes of God a soul is 
more valuable than the whole world. 6 Hence, accord 
ing to St. John Chrysostom, a person pleases God more 
by converting a single soul than by giving all his goods, 
to the poor. 7 Tertullian asserts that to God the sal 
vation of a single sheep that has strayed away, is as dear 
as the salvation of the entire flock. 8 Hence the Apostle 

1 " Nihil itagratum Deo, et ita curse, ut animarum salus." In Gen. 
horn. 3. 

2 "Nihil tam Deo gratum, quam operam dare ut omnes reddantur 

3 " Labora pro salute peccatorum; hoc enim prae omnibus est mihi 

4 " Nihil aliud est Domino curae, praeterquam hoc solum opus, ut 
homo salvus fiat." Oral, ad Gentes. 

5 " Si Deum honorare conaris, non aliter melius. quam in hominis 
salute, poteris actitare." DC Compunct. p. 2. 

6 " Totus iste mundus ad unius animas pretium aestimari non po- 
test." Medit. c. 3. 

7 " Etsi ingentes erogaveris pecunias, plus efficieris, si unam con- 
verteris animam." In I Cor. horn. 3. 

8 "Erat una pastoris ovicula; sed grex una carior non erat." De 

1 68 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

said: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and 
delivered Himself up for me. 1 By these words he signified 
that Jesus Christ would have died as soon for a single 
soul as for the salvation of all men, says St. John Chry- 
sostom in his comment on this passage. 2 This our Re 
deemer gave us to understand by the parable of the groat 
that had been lost. On this parable St. Thomas writes: 
" He calls together all the angels, not that all men, but 
that he himself may be congratulated on account of 
the groat that was found, as if man were God s God, as 
if his salvation depended on man s finding him, and as if 
God could not be happy "without him. ; 

It is related by several authors* of St. Carpus, Bishop, 
that he had a vision in which he seemed to see a scandal 
ous sinner who had induced an innocent person to com 
mit sin, and that he felt himself impelled by zeal to 
throw him into a precipice on the brink of which he 
stood, but Jesus Christ appeared to support the sinner 
with his hand, and said to St. Carpus: " Strike me, for I 
am ready again to die for sinners." As if he said: 
Hold, strike me rather than this sinner; for I have given 
my life for him, and am ready to give it again to save 
him from perdition. 

The ecclesiastical spirit, says Louis Habert, 5 consists 

1 " Dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me." Gal. ii. 20. 
8 " Neque enim recusaturus esset vel ob unum hominem tantam 
exhibere dispensationem." 

3 " Omnes Angelos convocat ad congratulandum non homini, sed 
sibi, quasi homo Dei Deus esset, et tota salus divina ab ipsius in- 
ventione dependeret, et quasi sine ipso beatus esse non posset." De 
Beat. c. 7. 

4 " Percute me, quia iterum pro peccatoribus mori paratus sum." 

5 " Essentialiter consistit in ardenti studio promovendi gloriam Dei 
et salutem proximi." De Sacr. Ord. p. 3, c. 5. 

* The first of these authors is St. Denis the Areopagite (Ep. ad 
Demoph.}, and it is believed that St. Carpus, who had this vision, is 
the one of v*h<Ma> SU Paul speaks in 2. Tim. iv. 13. ED. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. \ 69 

precisely in an ardent zeal for promoting the glory of 
God, and the salvation of our neighbor. Hence, accord 
ing to Natalis Alexander, they that wish to attend only 
to themselves, and not toothers, should not be admitted 
to the priesthood. 1 The Lord commanded 2 that the 
priests of the Old Law should wear vestments covered 
all over with certain circles, which resembled eyes, to 
show, as a certain author says, that the priest should be 
all eyes to attend to the sanctification of the people. 
St. Augustine says that zeal for the salvation of souls 
and for the promotion of divine love in all men springs 
from love. Then, adds the saint, he that has not zeal, 
shows that he does not love God; and he that does not 
love God is lost. 3 He that watches over his own soul 
pleases God; but he that watches over the souls of his 
neighbors, pleases him still more, says St. Bernard. 4 

God, says St. John Chrysostom, has no better proof 
of the fidelity and affection of a soul than in seeing her 
zealous for the welfare of her neighbor. 5 The Saviour 
three times asked St. Peter if he loved him: Simon, son 
of John, lovest thou Me ? 6 When assured of Peter s love, 
Jesus Christ asked him to do nothing else in proof of 
his love than to take care of souls: He said to him: Feed 
My sheep} On this passage St. John Chrysostom says: 
" The Lord might have said, If you love me, cast away 

1 " Quis ferat presbyterum ordinari, ut sibi tantum vacet, et non 
aliis ?" De Ord. c. 3, a. 5, reg. 22. 

2 Exod. xxviii. 

3 " Zelus est effectus amoris; ergo, qui non zelat, non amat; qui non 
amat, manet in morte." 

4 " Tu quidem, in tui custodia vigilans, bene facis; sed, qui juvat 
multos, melius facit." In Cant. s. 12. 

5 " Nihil adeo declarat quis sit fidelis et amans Christi, quam si 
fratrum curam agat; hoc maximum amicitise argumentum est." 
Serm. de B. Philog. 

^ 6 "Simon Joannis, amas me?" John,xxi. 17. 
7 " Pasce oves meas/ 

1 70 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

money, practise strict fast, sleep on the hard floor, and 
macerate yourself by hard labor. But no; he says, Feed 
my sheep." 1 On the word my, St. Augustine remarks 
that our Lord wished to say: " Feed them as my sheep, 
not as thine; seek in them my glory, not thine; my 
profit, not thine." 2 In these words the saint has taught 
that he that desires to labor for the salvation of souls 
should seek neither his own glory nor his own gain, but 
only the advancement of the divine glory. 

After reading the lives of the holy martyrs, and of the 
holy workmen in God s vineyard, St. Teresa 3 said that 
she envied the latter more than the former, on account 
of the great glory which they that labor for the con 
version of sinners give to God. St. Catharine of Sienna 
used to kiss the ground that had been trodden by priests 
employed in saving souls. Such was her zeal for the 
salvation of sinners, that she desired to be placed at the 
mouth of hell, that no soul might enter into that land 
of torment. And what do we, who are priests, say ? 
What do we do ? We see so many souls perish, and 
shall we remain idle spectators of their perdition ? 

St. Paul said that to obtain the salvation of his neigh 
bors he would have consented to be separated from Jesus 
Christ, that is, according to commentators, for a time: 
For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my 
brethren? St. John Chrysostom desired to be blind, pro 
vided the souls under his care were converted. 5 St. 

1 " Poterat dicere: Si amas me, abjice pecunias, jejunia exerce, 
raacera te laboribus. Nunc vero ait: Pasce oves meas. " Serm. de 
B. Philog. 

2 " Sicut meas pasce, non sicut tuas; gloriam meam in eis quaere, 
non tuam; lucra mea, non tua." /;/ Jo. tr. 123. 

3 Found, ch. i. 

4 " Optabam enim ego ipse anathema esse a Christo pro fratribus 
meis." Rom. ix. 3. 

5 " Millies optarem ipse exsecrabilis esse, si per hoc liceret animas 
vestras convertere." In Act. horn. 3. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. \ 7 1 

Bonaventure declared that he would have accepted as 
many deaths as there are sinners in the world, that all 
might be saved. 1 During a winter which he spent 
among the heretics of Chablais, St. Francis de Sales 
used to creep over a river on a beam of ice, with great 
risk and inconvenience to himself, in order to preach to 
them. Being in Naples during the great revolution of 
1647 and seeing the great loss of souls which it caused, 
St. Cajetan felt so intense a sorrow that he died of grief. 
St. Ignatius used to say that he would rather live un 
certain of his eternal lot than die with a certainty of 
salvation, provided he could continue to assist souls. 
Behold the zeal for souls which animated priests that 
loved God! And still, in order to avoid a trifling in 
convenience, or through fear of illness, some even among 
those that are charged with the care of souls withhold 
the aid of their ministry. St. Charles Borromeo used to 
say, that a pastor of souls, who wishes to have every 
convenience, and to take all the precautions that may 
be useful to health, will never be able to fulfil his 
duties. Hence he would add, that a parish priest should 
not go to bed till after the third paroxysm of fever. 

He that truly loves God, says St. Augustine, 2 does 
everything in his power to draw all to his love, and can 
say with David: O magnify the Lord with me; and let us 
extol His name together? He goes in every direction: 
exhorting in the pulpit and in the confessional, in the 
public places and in private houses, saying, Brethren, 
let us love God, let us praise his name, in words and 

1 Stim. div. am. p. 2, c. 1 1. 

2 " Si amatis Deum, rapite omnes ad amorem Dei." In Ps. 53, en. 1. 

3 " Magnificate Dominum mecum, et exaltemus nomen ejus in idip- 
sum." Ps. xxxiii. 4. 

172 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 


How Secure the Priest who Labors for the Salvation of Souls 
Renders his own Salvation, and how Great the Reward 
that he shall receive in Heaven. 

The priest who has labored for the salvation of souls 
can hardly die a bad death. When thou shalt pour out, 
says the prophet Isaias, thy soul to the hungry, and shalt 
satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in dark 
ness. . . . Ana the Lord will give thee rest continually, and 
will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones. 1 If 
you have spent your life in assisting a soul in need, and 
have consoled her in her afflictions, in the darkness of 
your temporal death, the Lord shall fill you with light, 
and shall deliver you from eternal death. This was the 
doctrine of St. Augustine: " In saving a soul thou hast 
predestined your own," says the holy Doctor. 2 And, 
long before, the apostle St. James said: He must know, 
that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of 
his way, shall save his soul (that is, his own soul, as appears 
from the Greek text) from death, and shall cover a multitude 
of sins? 

A priest of the Society of Jesus, who during life devoted 
a great deal of time to the conversion of sinners, died 
with joy and confidence of salvation; this some con 
sidered to be excessive. Hence he was told that at death 
we should entertain sentiments of fear as well as of confi 
dence. He answered: Have I served Mahomet? I have 
served a God who is so grateful and faithful; why, then, 
should I fear? When St. Ignatius of Loyola declared 

1 " Cum effuderis animam tuam, et animam afflictam repleveris, orie- 
tur in tenebris lux tua; . . . et requiem tibi dabit Dominus semper, et 
implebit splendoribus animam tuam, et ossa tua liberabit." Is. Iviii. 10. 

2 "Animam salvasti, animam tuam praedestinasti." 

3 " Qui convert! fecerit peccatorem ab errore viae suse, salvabit animam 
ejus a morte, et operiet mulutudinem peccatorum. " James, v. 20. 

CHAP, ix.i The Zeal of the Priest. 173 

that in order to assist souls he would remain on earth 
in an uncertainty about his salvation, though he was 
certain that by dying he should be saved, a person said: 
"But, Father, it is not prudent to expose your own soul 
to danger for the salvation of others." The saint replied, 
" Is God a tyrant, who, after seeing me risk my salvation 
in order to gain souls, would send me to hell ?" 

After having saved the Jews from the hands of the 
Philistines, by the victory that he won with so much 
personal danger, Jonathan was condemned to death by 
Saul for having, contrary to "his orders, eaten a little 
honey But the people cried out, Shall Jonathan then 
die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? l Why, 
O king, said they, should Jonathan be put to death after 
having saved us all from destruction ? Thus they ob 
tained his pardon. The priest who has saved souls may 
well expect a similar reward on the day of his death. 
These souls shall come and say to Jesus Christ: Wilt 
Thou, O Lord, send to hell the priest who has delivered 
us from eternal misery ? And if Saul remitted the 
punishment of death at the prayers of the people, surely 
God will not refuse to pardon such a priest for the 
prayers of the souls that are his friends in heaven. 
Priests who have labored for the salvation of souls shall 
hear from God himself the announcement of eternal 
rest: From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may 
rest from their labors? Oh ! what consolation and confi 
dence shall the remembrance of having gained a soul to 
Jesus Christ infuse at the hour of death ! As repose is 
sweet to him who is oppressed with fatigue, Sleep is 
sweet to a laboring man? so death is sweet to a priest 
who has labored for God. 

1 " Erg-one Jonathas morietur, qui fecit salutem hanc magnam in Is 
rael ?" i Kings, xiv. 45. 

2 " Amodo jam dicit spiritus, ut requiescant a laboribus suis; opera 
enim illomm sequuntur illos." Apoc. xiv. 13. 

3 " Dulcis est somnus operand." Eccles. v. n. 

1 74 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

St. Gregory says that the more souls a sinner shall 
have converted from their sins, the sooner he shall be 
absolved from his own transgressions. 1 He that has the 
good fortune of being employed in converting sinners 
has a great mark of predestination, and of being written 
in the book of life. This the Apostle insinuated when, 
in speaking of those that assisted him in the conversion 
of nations, he said: / entreat thee also, my sincere com 
panion, help those women that have labored with me in the 
Gospel with Clement and the rest of my fellow-laborers, whose 
names are (mark these words) in the book of life? 

With regard to the great reward that priests who 
labor for souls shall receive, Daniel said: They shall 
shine . . . as the brightness of the firmament : and they that 
instruct many to justice, as stars for all eternity. 3 As we 
now see the stars shine in the firmament, so the priest 
who converts souls to God shall shine among the blessed 
in the empyreal heaven with a brilliant light of glory. 
If, says St. Gregory, he that rescues a man from temporal 
death deserves a great reward, how much greater shall 
be the recompense of a priest who delivers a soul from 
eternal death, and brings her to eternal life ! And 
before him our Saviour said: But he that shall do and 
teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.* 
How great shall be the chastisement in hell of a damned 

1 " Tanto celerius quisque a suis peccatis absolvitur, quanto, per ejus 
vitam et linguam, aliorum animae solvuntur." 

2 " Etiam rogo et te, germane compar: adjuva illas quae mecum 
laboraverunt in Evangelic, cum Clemente et caeteris adjutoribus meis, 
quorum nomina sunt in Libro vitae." Phil, iv. 3. 

3 " Fulgebunt, . . . qui ad justitiam erudiunt multos, quasi stellae in 
perpetuas aeternitates." Dan. xii. 3. 

4 " Si magnae mercedis est a morte eripere carnem quandoque mori- 
turam, quanti est meriti a morte animam liberare sine fine victuram !" 
Mor. \. 19, c. 1 6. 

6 "Qui autem fecerit et docuerit, hie magnus vocabitur in regno 
coelorum." Matt. v. 19. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 175 

priest who by his scandals has perverted many souls ! 
On the other hand, will not God, whose liberality in 
rewarding virtue surpasses his severity in punishing 
vice, give great glory in heaven to the good priest who 
by his labors shall have gained many souls ? 

St. Paul placed the hope of his eternal crown in the 
salvation of those whom he had converted to God, and 
trusted that they should procure for him a great recom 
pense for eternity: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown 
of glory ? Are not you in the presence of our Lord Jesus 
Christ at His coming ? St. Gregory says that a priest 
who works in the Lord s vineyard obtains as many 
crowns as he gains souls to God. 2 We read in the 
Canticles, Come from Libanus, My spouse, come from Liba- 
nus, come: thou shalt be crowned? Behold the promise of 
the Lord to him who is employed in the conversion of sin 
ners the souls that were once wild beasts and monsters 
of hell, but were afterwards converted and became dear 
to God, shall be so many gems adorning the crown of 
the priest who has brought them back to the path of 
virtue. A priest who is damned does not go to hell 
alone, and the priest that is saved is certainly not saved 
alone. When St. Philip Neri died and went to heaven, 
the Lord sent to meet him all the souls that he had 
saved. The same is related of that great servant of 
God, Brother Cherubim of Spoleto. He was seen enter 
ing heaven accompanied by many thousands of souls 
that had been saved by his labors. It is also related of 
the Venerable Father Louis la Nuza, that he was seen in 
heaven sitting on a lofty throne, at the foot of which 
were seated all the souls that he had converted. 

1 " Quae enim nostra spes, aut gaudium, aut corona gloriae ? Nonne 
vos ante Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum estis in adventu ejus ?" I 
77iess. ii. 19. 

2 " Tot coronas sibi multiplicat, quot Deo animas lucrifacit." 

" Veni de Libano, sponsa mea, veni de Libano, veni; coronaberis 
. . . de cubilibus leonum, de montibus pardorum." Cant, iv. 8. 

1 76 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

The poor husbandman suffers toils and sweats in sow 
ing and cultivating the ground, and in reaping the crop; 
but all his labors are superabundantly compensated by 
the joy of the harvest. Going, they went and wept, casting 
their seeds; but coming, they shall come with joy fulness, carry 
ing their sheaves. 1 It is true that in the work of bringing 
souls to God many pains and labors are endured; but 
the laborer shall be recompensed with immense super 
abundance by the joy that he shall feel in presenting to 
Jesus Christ in the valley of Josaphat all the souls he 
had saved. 

Nor should the priest who labors without success to 
bring souls to God be disheartened, nor turned away 
from so noble a work. Beloved priest, says St. Bernard, 
be not discouraged by your want of success, but rest 
secure of the reward that awaits you. God does not 
require of you to save souls: labor for their salvation, 
and he will reward you, not in proportion to your suc 
cess, but according to the toils you have endured. 2 St. 
Bonaventure confirms this doctrine, and says that a 
priest shall not merit less for those that draw little or 
no profit from his labors, than from the souls that reap 
great benefit from them. 5 The same saint adds, that the 
husbandman who cultivates the barren and rocky soil 
merits a greater reward though he reaps less fruit. 4 He 

" Euntes ibant et flebant, mittentes semina sua; venientes autem 
venient cum exsultatione, portantes manipulos suos." Ps. cxxv. 6. 

2 " Noli diffidere; curam exigeris, non curationem. Denique audisti* 
Curam illius habe (Luke, x. 35); et non: Cura, vel Sana ilium; quia 
unusquisque secundum suum laborem accipiet (i Cor. iii. 8), et non 
secundum proventum; reddet Deus mercedem laborum (Wisd. x. 17) 
sanctorum suorum." De Cons. 1. 4, c. 2. 

3 " Non minus meretur in illis qui deficiunt vel modicum proficiunt, 
quam in his qui maxime proficiunt; non enim dixit Apostolus (i Cor. 
iii. 8) : Unusquisque propriam mercedem accipiet secundum suum pro- 
fectum; sed, secundum suum laborem." 

4 " In terra sterili et saxosa, etsi fructus paucior, sed pretium majus." 
De Sex Alls Ser. c. 5. 

CHAP, ix.i The Zeal of the Priest. \ 77 

meant to say, that a priest who endeavors, though with 
out success, to bring back an obstinate sinner to God 
shall have a greater reward, because his labor is greater. 


The End, the Means, and the Labors of the Priest who has 



If we wish to receive from God the reward of our 
labors for the salvation of souls, we must do all not 
through human respect, nor for our own honor or tem 
poral gain, but only for God and for his glory; other 
wise, instead of a reward we shall receive punishment. 
Great should be our folly, says St. Joseph Calasanctius, 
were we to seek from men a temporal remuneration for 
our labors. The office of saving souls, says St. Bernard, 
is in itself very dangerous, since we shall have once to 
render an account of the actions of others. 1 And St. 
Gregory writes: "The priest possesses as many souls as 
he is instructing subjects." With the divine aid we 
shall be able to avoid sin and merit a reward in the work 
of saving others; but he who performs this work for any 
other end than to please God, shall be abandoned by 
God; and without the divine assistance, how shall he be 
able to avoid sin ? And how, says St. Bonaventure, shall 
they avoid sin who " receive holy Orders, seeking not 
the salvation of souls, but temporal gain," 3 or whose 
motive, as St. Prosper says, is not to become better, but 

1 " Maximum periculum de factis alterius rationem reddere." In Heb. 
c. 13, lect. 3. 

2 "Quot regendis subditis praeest, reddendae apud eum (Christum 
Judicem) rationis tempore, ut itadicam, tot solus animas habet. " Mor. 
1. 24, c. 30. 

3 " Ad sacros Ordines accedunt, non salutem animarum, sed quaestum 
pecuniarum qu?srentes." De Pra-p. ad M. c. 8. 


1 78 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

richer: not more holy, but more honored ? When, says 
Peter de Blois, there is question of obtaining a benefice, 
do persons ask how many souls may be gained, or do 
they not inquire rather about the amount of its reve 
nues? 2 Many, says the Apostle, seek the things that are 
their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ s? O execrable 
abuse, says Father John d Avila, to make heaven sub 
ordinate to earth ! St. Bernard observes that when our 
Lord intrusted his sheep to St. Peter he said: "Feed 
my sheep; do not milk nor shear them." The author 
of the Imperfect Work says : " We have been hired as 
day-laborers; and just as no one hires a day-laborer only 
for the purpose of eating, so Jesus Christ has not called 
us to labor only for our own profit, but for God s glory." 5 
Hence St. Gregory says of priests, " Priests should not 
rejoice that they precede others but that they can be 
useful to them." 6 

The glory of God, then, must be the sole end of the 
priest who labors for souls. 


With regard to the means that a priest should adopt 
in order to gain souls to the Lord: 

I. The priest must above all attend to the perfection 
of his own soul. The sanctity of the priest is the prin- 

1 " Non ut meliores, sed ut ditiores; nee ut sanctiores, sed ut honora- 
tiores sint?" De Vita cont. 1. i, c. 21. 

2 " Hodie, in promotione quorumdam, prima quaestio est. quae sit 
summa reddituum, non quae sit conversatio subjectorum." Epist. 15. 

3 " Quae suasunt, quaerunt, non quae sunt Jesu Christi." Phil. ii. 21. 

4 " Pasce oves meas; nee Mulge, sen Tonde." Dcclam. n. 12. 

5 " Mercenarii sumus conduct!; sicut ergo nemo conducit mercena- 
rium ut solum manducet, sic et nos, non ideo vocati sumus a Christo 
ut solum operemur quae ad nostrum pertinent usum, sed ad gloriam 
Dei." Horn. 34. 

6 "Nee praeesse se hominibus gaudeant, sed prodesse." Past. p. 2, 
c. 6. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 1 79 

cipal means of converting sinners. St. Eucherius says 
that priests by the power of their sanctity sustain the 
world. 1 The priest, as mediator, is charged with the 
office of making peace between God and men, says St. 
Thomas. 2 But he who is a mediator must not be hate 
ful to the person before whom he has to intercede; 
otherwise, he will increase his wrath, says St. Gregory. 3 
Hence the saint adds, " Pure must be the hand of the one 
that wishes to cleanse others of their stains." 4 Hence 
St. Bernard concludes that a priest, in order to be fit to 
convert sinners, must first purify his own conscience and 
afterwards the conscience of others. 5 St. Philip Neri 
used to say, give me ten zealous priests and I will con 
vert the whole world. What did not a solitary St. 
Francis Xavier do in the East ? It is related that he 
alone converted ten millions of pagans to the faith. 
What did not a St. Patrick, a St. Vincent Ferrer, do in 
Europe ? A single priest of moderate learning, who 
loves God ardently, will convert more souls to God than 
a hundred priests of great learning and little zeal. 

II. He who wishes to reap an abundant harvest of 
souls must devote a good deal of time to mental prayer. 
In prayer he must first receive from God sentiments of 
piety, and afterwards communicate them to others: 
That which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the house 
tops? It is necessary, says St. Bernard, to be first a 

1 " Hi onus totius orbis portant humeris sanctitatis." Horn, de Dedic. 

2 " Ad mediatoris officium proprie pertinet conjungere eos interquos 
est mediator." P. 3, q. 26, a. I. 

3 "Cum is qui displicet, ad intercedendum mittitur, irati animus ad 
deteriora provocatur." Past. p. i.e. n. 

4 " Necesse est ut esse munda studeat manus, quae diluere aliorum 
sordes curat." Past. p. 2, c. 2. 

5 " Rectus ordo postulat ut prius propriam, deinde alienas curare 
studeas conscientias." Epist. 8. 

6 " Quod in aure auditis, predicate super tecta." Matt. x. 27. 

1 80 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

reservoir and then a canal. 1 The saints have converted 
more souls by their prayers than by their labors. 


The works in which a zealous priest should be em 
ployed are: 

I. The correction of sinners. Priests who see insults 
offered to God and remain silent are called by Isaias 
mute dogs? But to these mute dogs shall be imputed all 
the sins that they could have but have not prevented. 
"Do not be silent," says Alcuin, "lest the sins of the 
people be ascribed to you." : Some priests abstain from 
reproving sinners because they do not wish to disturb 
their peace of mind; but, says St. Gregory, for this 
peace that they desire, they shall miserably lose peace 
with God. 4 An animal falls, exclaims St. Bernard, and 
many are found to lift it; a souls falls, and no one is 
found to raise her up. 5 Yes, sinners are not converted, 
although, according to St. Gregory, priests are specially 
appointed by God to point out the path of virtue to 
those who go astray/ Hence St. Leo adds: " The priest 
who does not withdraw another from error proves that 
he is himself involved in it." 7 St. Gregory writes that 
we kill as many souls as we see committing sin without 
endeavoring to apply a remedy. 8 

1 " Concham te exhibebis, non canalem. Canales hodie in Ecclesia 
multos habemus, conchas vero perpaucas." In Cant. s. 18. 

2 " Canes muti, non valentes latrare." Is. Ivi. 10. 

3 " Nolite tacere, ne populi peccata vobis imputentur." Epist. 28. 

4 " Dum pacem desiderant, pravos mores nequaquam redarguunt; et 
consentiendo perversis, ab Auctoris sui se pace disjungunt." Past. p. 
3, c. i, adm. 23. 

5 " Cadit asina, et est qui sublevet earn; perit anima, et nemo est 
qui reputet." De Cons. 1. 4, c. 6. 

6 " Eligitur viam erranti demonstrate." Epist. 1. 7, ind. 2, ep. no. 
" Sacerdos qui alium ab errore non revocat, seipsum errare demon- 

strat." Ep. ad Tttrrib. c. 15, 

8 Nos qui Sacerdotes vocamur, tot occidimus, quot ad mortem ire 
quotidie tepide videmus. " In Ezech. horn. n. 

CHAP, ix.] The Zeal of the Priest. 181 

II. A zealous priest ought to be employed in preach 
ing. By preaching, the world has been, as the Apostle 
says, converted to the faith of Jesus Christ: Faith 
cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. 1 And 
by preaching, the faith and the fear of God are pre 
served in the hearts of the faithful. Priests who feel 
themselves unable to preach should at least endeavor 
as often as possible, in their conversation with friends or 
relatives, to edify by words of edification, by relating 
examples of virtues practised by the saints, by incul 
cating some maxim of eternity, by impressing on them 
the vanity of the world, the importance of salvation, the 
certainty of death, the peace enjoyed by those who are 
in the grace of God, or some similar truths. 

III. The priest should be occupied in assisting the 
dying, which is a work of charity most dear to God, and 
most conducive to the salvation of souls; for the dying 
are more strongly tempted by the devils, and are less 
able to assist themselves. St. Philip Neri frequently 
saw angels suggesting words to priests who were attend 
ing dying persons. For parish priests this work is an 
obligation of justice, but for every priest it is a duty of 
charity. It may be performed with advantage by every 
priest, even by those who have not talent for preaching. 
In attending the sick, a priest may be of great service to 
their friends and relatives. That is the fittest time for 
spiritual discourses. On such an occasion it is even un 
becoming in a priest to speak of anything but of God 
and of spiritual things. But let it be remembered that 
he who performs this office must use great caution, that 
he may not be an occasion of ruin to himself or others. 
Moreover, he who cannot preach should at least labor 
in teaching the Christian doctrine to the children and 
the poor, many of whom in the rural districts, in conse- 

1 " Fides ex auditu; auditus autem per verbum Christi." Rom.yi. 17. 

1 82 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

quence of not being able to go often to the church, live 
in ignorance of even the principal mysteries of faith. 

IV. Lastly, it is necessary to be persuaded that the 
work which is most conducive to the salvation of souls 
is the administration of the sacrament of penance. The 
Venerable Louis Fiorillo, of the Order of St. Dominic, 
used to say^ that by preaching the priest casts out the 
net, but by hearing confessions he draws it ashore and 
takes the fish. But some may say this is a very perilous 
office. There is no doubt, dearly beloved priest, says 
St. Bernard, that to become the judge of consciences 
is attended with much danger; but you shall fall into 
greater danger if through sloth or excessive fear you 
neglect to fulfil this office when God calls you to it. 
"Woe to you," says the same saint, "if you are a Supe 
rior! But a greater woe to you if through fear of com 
manding you shrink from doing good." J We have 
already spoken 2 of the obligation of every priest to em 
ploy the talent that God has given him that he may save 
souls; and we have already said that at his ordination a 
priest is destined in a special manner for the administra 
tion of the sacrament of penance. But you may say 
that you are not qualified for this office, because you 
have not studied theology. But do you not know that a 
priest is bound to study ? The lips of the priest shall keep 
knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth? If you 
did not intend to study in order to be able to assist your 
neighbor, why did you become a priest? Who, says the 
Lord, asked you to take holy Orders ? Who required 
these things at your hands that you should walk in My courts ? 4 

1 " Vae tibi, si praees; sed vae gravius, si, quia praeesse metuis, pro- 
desse refugis!" Epist, 86. 

2 Page 158. 

3 " Labia enim Sacerdotis custodient scientiam, et legem requirent ex 
ore ejus." Mai. ii. 7. 

4 " Quis quassivit haec de manibus vestris, ut ambularetis in atriis 
meis?" Is. i. 12. 

CHAP, ix.j The Zeal of the Priest. 183 

Who, asks St. John Chrysostom, has forced you to be 
come a priest ? Before your ofdination, adds the saint, 
you ought to have examined your fitness for this duty; 
but now that you are a priest you must work and not 
examine; and if you are not fit for the work, you must 
qualify yourself for it. 2 To excuse yourself now on the 
ground of ignorance, continues the holy Doctor, is to 
excuse one sin by another. 3 Some priests read many 
useless books, and neglect to study the science that may 
enable them to save souls. St. Prosper says that such 
priests violate justice. 4 

In fine, it is necessary to be persuaded that the priest 
should seek nothing but the glory of God and salvation 
of souls. Hence St. Sylvester ordained that with regard 
to ecclesiastics the days of the week should be called by 
no other name than that of Fcrice, or vacant days. 5 The 
Gentiles themselves used to say that priests should 
attend only to the things of God, and therefore they 
forbade their priests to exercise the office of magistrates, 
that they might be entirely devoted to the worship of 
their gods. After he had been appointed by God to 
promote his honor, and the observance of his law, Moses 
spent a good deal of his time in settling disputes. 
Jethro justly reproved him, saying: Thou art spent with 
foolish labor. . . . Be thou to the people in those things that 

1 " Quisnam ad id te coegit?" De Sacerd. 1. 4. 

2 " Tempus nunc agendi, non consultandi. " 

3 " Neque licet ad ignorantiam confugere, quandoquidem qui dele- 
gatus est ut aliorum emendet ignorantiam, is ignorantiam praetendere 
minime poterit; hoc nomine supplicium nulla excusatione poterit de- 
pellere, quamvis unius dumtaxat animae jactura accident." De Sacerd. 
1. 6. 

4 " Contra justitiam faciunt, qui otiosum studium fructuosae utilitati 
regendae multitudinis anteponunt." De Vita cont. 1. 3, c. 28. 

5 "Quotldie clericos, abjecta caeterarum rerum cura, uni Deo prorsus 
vacare debere." Breviar. 31 Dec. 

1 84 Material for Sermons. [PART i 

pertain to God. 1 Before you were ordained priest, says 
St. Athanasius, you might devote yourself to any occu 
pation you wished, but now that you are a priest, you 
must be employed in the fulfilment of the office for 
which you are destined. 2 And what is the nature of 
this office ? One of its principal duties is, as we have 
shown, to labor for the salvation of souls. This doc 
trine is confirmed by St. Prosper, who says: " To priests 
properly belong the care of saving souls." : 

1 " Stulto labore consumeris. . . . Esto tu populo in his quae ad 
Deum pertinent." Exod. xviii. 18. 

2 " Id scire oportet, te, priusquam ordinabaris, tibi vixisse; ordina- 
tum autem, illis quibus ordinatus est." Ep. ad Dracont. 

3 " Sacerdotibus proprie animarum curandarum sollicitudo commissa 
est." De Vita cont. 1. 2., c. 2. 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 185 



Necessity of a Divine Vocation to take Holy Orders. 

To enter any state of life, a divine vocation is neces 
sary; for without such a vocation it is, if not impossible, 
at least most difficult to fulfil the obligations of our state, 
and obtain salvation. But if for all states a vocation is 
necessary, it is necessary in a particular manner for the 
ecclesiastical state. He that entercth not by the door into the 
sheep/old, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and 
a robber. 1 Hence he who takes holy orders without a 
call from God is convicted of theft, in taking by force 
a dignity which God does not wish to bestow upon him. 2 
And before him St. Paul said the same thing: Neither 
doth any man take the honor to him self, but he that is called by 
God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify Himself 
that He might be made a high priest ; but he that said unto 
Him : Thou art My Son ; this day I have begotten Thee? 

No one, then, however learned, prudent, and holy he 
may be, can thrust himself into the sanctuary unless he is 
first called and introduced by God. Jesus Christ him 
self, who among all men was certainly the most learned 

" Qui non intrat per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascendit aliunde, 
ille fur est et latro." John, x. i. 

" Latrones et fures appellat eos qui se ultro, ad non sibi datam 
desuper gratiam, obtrudunt." In Jo. x. 10. 

"Nee quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo tam- 
quam Aaron. Sic et Christus non semetipsum clarificavit ut pontifex 
fieret; sed qui locutus est ad eum. Filius meus es tu." Heb. v. 4, 5. 

1 86 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

and the most holy, full of grace and truth, 1 in whom are 
hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? Jesus 
Christ, I say, required a divine call in order to assume 
the dignity of the priesthood. 

In entering the sanctuary, even after God himself had 
called them to it, the saints trembled. When his bishop 
ordered St. Augustine to receive ordination, the saint 
through humility regarded the command as a chastise 
ment of his sins. 3 To escape the priesthood St. Ephrem 
of Syria feigned madness; and St. Ambrose pretended 
to be a man of a cruel disposition. 

To avoid the priesthood, St. Ammonius the Monk cut 
off his ears, and threatened to pluck out his tongue, if 
the persons who pressed him to take holy orders should 
continue to molest him. In a word, St. Cyril of Alexan 
dria says, " The saints have dreaded the dignity of the 
priesthood as a burden of enormous weight. " Can 
any one, then, says St. Cyprian, be so daring as to at 
tempt of himself, and without a divine call, to assume 
the priesthood ? 5 

As a vassal who would of himself take the office of 
minister should violate the authority of his sovereign, 
so he who intrudes himself into the sanctuary without a 
vocation violates the authority of God. How great 
should be the temerity of the subject who, without the 
appointment, and even in opposition to the will of the 
monarch, should attempt to administer the royal patri 
mony, to decide lawsuits, to command the army, and to 
assume the viceregal authority ! " Among you," asks 

1 "Plenum gratiae et veritatis." -John, \. 14. 

2 " In quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientise et scientiae absconditi." 
Col. ii. 3. 

3 " Vis mihi facta est merito peccatorum meorum." Epist. 21, E. B. 

4 "Omnes sanctos reperio divini ministerii ingentem veluti molem 
formidantes." De Fest. pasch. horn. I. 

5 " Ita est aliquis sacrilegae temeritatis, ac perditse mentis, ut putet 
sine Dei judicio fieri sacerdotem?" Epist. 55.. 

CHAP, x.j The Vocation to the Priesthood. 187 

St. Bernard in speaking to clerics, " is there any one so 
insolent as, without orders and contrary to the will of 
the pettiest monarch, to assume the direction of his 
affairs?" 1 And are not priests, as St. Prosper says, the 
administrators of the royal house ? 2 Are they not, accord 
ing to St. Ambrose, the " leaders and rectors of the flock 
of Christ"? according to St. Chrysostom, the "inter 
preters of the divine judgments," 4 and according to St. 
Denis, the " vicars of Christ "? 5 Will any one who knows 
all this dare to become the minister of God without a 
divine call ? 

To think of exercising royal authority is, according to 
St. Peter Chrysologus, criminal in a subject. 6 To in 
trude into the house of a private individual, in order to 
dispose of his goods and to manage his business, would 
be considered temerity; for even a private individual has 
the right of appointing the administrators of his affairs. 
And will you, says St. Bernard, without being called or 
introduced by God, intrude into his house to take charge 
of his interests and to dispose of his goods? 7 

The Council of Trent has declared that the Church 
regards not as her minister, but as a robber, the man 
who audaciously assumes the priesthood without a voca 
tion. 4 Such priests may labor and toil, but their labors 

" Auderetne aliquis vestmm terreni cujuslibet reguii, non praeci 
piente aut etiam prohibente eo, occupare ministeria, negotia dispen- 
sare ?" De Conv. adder, c. 19. 

8 " Dispensatores regiae domus." De Vita cont. 1. 2, c. 2. 

3 " Duces et rectores gregis Christi." De Dign. sac. c. 2. 

4 " Interpretes divinorum judiciorum." 
6 " Vicar ii Christi." Horn. 17. 

6 " Regnum velle servum, crimen est." Serm. 23. 

"Quid istud temeritatis, imo quid insaniffi est? tu irreverenter 
irruis, nee vocatus, nee introductus." De Vita cler. c. 5. 

" Decernit sancta Synodus eos qui ea (ministeria) propria temeri^ 
tate sibi sumunt, omnes, non Ecclesiae ministros, sed fures et latrones 
per ostium non ingressos habendos esse." Sess. 23, cap. 4. 

1 88 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

shall profit them little before God. On the contrary, 
the works that are meritorious in others shall deserve 
chastisement for them. Should a servant who is com 
manded by his master to take care of the house, through 
his own caprice labor in cultivating the vineyard, he 
may toil and sweat, but instead of being rewarded he 
shall be chastised by his master. Thus, in the first 
place, because they are not conformable to the divine 
will, the Lord shall not accept the toils of the man who, 
without a vocation, intrudes himself into the priest 
hood. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of Hosts, 
and I will not receive a gift of your hand. 1 Intheend God 
will not reward, but will punish the works of the priest 
who has entered the sanctuary without a vocation. 
What stranger soever cometh to it (the tabernacle] shall be 
slain." 1 

Whosoever, then, aspires to holy Orders must, in the 
first place, carefully examine whether his vocation is 
from God. " For," says St. John Chrysostom, "since 
this dignity is great, it must be approved by a divine 
sentence, so that only the one that is worthy may be ad 
mitted thereto." : Now to know whether his call is from 
God, he should examine the marks of a divine vocation. 
He, says St. Luke, who wishes to build a tower first 
computes the necessary expenses, in order to know if he 
has the means of completing the edifice. 4 

4 " Non est mihi voluntas in vobis, dicit Dominus exercituum, et 
munus non suscipiam de manu vestra." Mai. i. 10. 

2 " Quisquis externorum accesserit (ad tabernaculum) occidetur." 
Num. i. 51. 

3 " Quoniam dignitas magna est, et revera divina sententia compro- 
banda. " In I Tim. horn. 5. 

4 " Quis enim ex vobis, volens turrim sedificare, non prius sedens 
computat sumptus qui necessarii sunt, si habeat ad perficiendum ?"- 
Luke, xiv. 28. 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 189 

Marks of a Divine Vocation to the Sacerdotal State, 

Let us now see what are the marks of a divine voca 
tion to the sacerdotal state. 

Nobility is not a mark of a divine vocation. To know, 
says St. Jerome, whether a person should become the 
guide of the people in what regards their eternal salva 
tion, we must consider not nobility of blood, but sanctity 
of life. 1 St. Gregory says the same: " By one s con 
duct, not by one s high birth, is one s vocation to be 
proved." 2 

Nor is the will of parents a mark of a divine vo 
cation. In inducing a child to take priesthood they 
seek not his spiritual welfare, but their own interest, 
and the advancement of the family. " How many 
mothers," says St. John Chrysostom, or the author of 
the Imperfect Work, " have eyes only for the bodies of 
their children and disdain their souls! To see them 
happy here below is all that they desire; as for the 
punishments that perhaps their children are to en 
dure in the next life, they do not even think of 
them." ; We must be persuaded, as Jesus Christ has 
said, that with regard to the choice of a state of life we 
have no enemies more dangerous than our own rela 
tives. And a mans enemies shall be they of his own house 
hold." Hence the Redeemer adds: He that loveth fathei 

" Principatum in populos, non sanguini deferendum, sed vitae." 
In Tit. i. 

2 "Quos dignos divina probet electio, secundum vitae, non generis 

3 " Matres corpora natorum amant, animas contemnunt; desiderant 
illos valere in saeculo isto, et non curant quid sint passuri in alio." 
Horn. 35. 

4 " Et mimici hominis, domesiici ejus." Matt. x. 36. 

Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me* Oh! how 
many priests shall we see condemned on the day of 
judgment for having taken holy Orders to please their 

When a young man, in obedience to the call of God, 
wishes to become a religious, what efforts do not his 
parents make, either through passion or for the interest 
of the family, to dissuade him from following his voca 
tion ! It is necessary to know that, according to the 
common opinion of theologians, this cannot be excused 
from mortal sin. See what I have written on this sub 
ject in my Moral Theology. Parents who act in this 
manner are guilty of a double sin. They sin first 
against charity, because they are the cause of a grievous 
evil to the child whom God has called to religion. A 
person who dissuades even a stranger from following a 
religious vocation is guilty of a grievous sin. They sin, 
secondly, against piety; for by their obligation to edu 
cate a child they are bound to promote his greater 
spiritual welfare. Some ignorant confessors tell their 
penitents who wish to become religious, that in this they 
should obey their parents, and abandon their vocation 
if their parents object to their entering religion. These 
confessors adopt the opinion of Luther, who taught that 
a person sins by entering religion without the consent 
of his parents. But the doctrine of Luther was rejected 
by the holy Fathers, and by the Tenth Council of 
Toledo, in which it was decreed that children who had 
attained their fourteenth year may lawfully enter re 
ligion even against the will of their parents. A child is 
bound to obey his parents in what regards his education 
and the government of the house; but with regard to 
the choice of a state of life, he should obey God by 
embracing the state to which God calls him. When 

1 "Qui amat patrem aut matrcm plus quam me, non est me dignus." 
Matt. x. 37. 

CHAP, x.i The Vocation to the Priesthood. 191 

parents seek to be obeyed in this matter we must answer 
them in the words of the apostles to the princes of the 
Jews: If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather 
than God) judge ye. 1 

St. Thomas expressly teaches that in the ohoice of 
a state of life children are not obliged to obey their 
parents. And the saint says that when there is question 
of a vocation to religion, a person is not bound even to 
consult his relatives; for on such occasions self-interest 
changes relatives into enemies. 2 Parents are, as St. 
Bernard says, content to see their children damned with 
them, rather than see them saved by entering religion 
and separating from the family. 3 But when a person 
wishes to enter the sacerdotal state, in which he may be 
able to serve the family, what efforts do not his parents 
make to procure his ordination, either by lawful or un 
lawful means, whether he is called or not called to the 
priesthood ! And with what severity do they not treat 
him if, through remorse of conscience, he refuse to take 
holy orders ! Barbarous fathers! Let us, with St. Ber 
nard, call them not parents, but murderers! 4 Unhappy 
fathers! miserable children! I say again. How many 
shall we see condemned in the valley of Josaphat for 
having interfered with the vocation of others, or for 
not having attended to their own! For, as we shall 
hereafter demonstrate, the salvation of each individual 
depends on following the divine call. 

But let us return to our subject. Neither nobility of 
birth nor the will of parents are marks of a vocation to 

"Si justum est, in conspectu Dei, vos potius audire quam Deum, 
judicate." Acts, iv. 19. 

" Propinqui autem carnis, in hoc proposito.amici nonsunt, sed potius 
inimici, juxta sententiam Domini: Inimici hominis, domestic! ejus. " 
Contra retr. a. reL c. 9. 

" O durum pattern, o saevam matrem, quorum consolatio mors filii 
est; qui me malunt perirecum eis, quam regnare sine eis!" Epist. in. 
4 " Non parentes, sed peremptores." 

192 Material for Sermons. IPART i. 

the priesthood; nor is talent or fitness for the offices of 
a priest a sign of vocation, for along with talent a holy 
life and a divine call are necessary. 

What, then, are the marks of a divine vocation to the 
ecclesiastical state? There are three principal marks: 


The first is a good intention. It is necessary to enter 
the sanctuary by the door, but there is no other door 
than Jesus Christ: I am the door of the sheep. . . . If any 
man enter in, he shall be saved. 1 To enter, then, by the 
door is to become a priest not to please relatives, nor to 
advance the family, nor for the sake of self-interest or 
self-esteem, but to serve God, to propagate his glory, 
and to save souls. " If any one," says a wise theo 
logian, the learned continuator of Tournely, " presents 
himself for holy Orders without any vicious affection, 
and with the sole desire to be employed in the service of 
God and in the salvation of his neighbor, he, we may 
believe, is called by God." J Another author asserts 
that he who is impelled by ambition, interest, or a motive 
of his own glory, is called not by God, but by the devil. 3 
"But," adds St. Anselm, "he who enters the priesthood 
through so unworthy motives shall receive not a blessing 
but a malediction from God. 4 

1 " Ego sum ostium ovium. . . . Per me si quis introierit, salvabi- 
tur. " John, x. 7. 

2 " Si enim aliquis, liber ab omni vitioso affectu, ad clerum, Deo 
deserviendi causa et salutis populi gratia solum, se conferat, vocari a 
Deo praesumitur." De Ord. q. 4, a. 4. 

s "Ambi v one duceris, vel avaritia? inhias honori? Non te vocat 
Deus, sed diabolus tentat." Hall, p i, s. 3, c. 2, 4. 

4 " Qui enim se ingerit et propriam gloriam quaerit, gratioe Dei 
rapinam facit; et ideo non accipit benedictionem, sed maledictionem." 
In Heb. 5. 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 193 


The second mark is the talent and learning necessary 
for the fulfilment of the duties of a priest. Priests must 
be masters to teach the people the law of God. For the 
lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the 
law at his mouth. 1 Sidonius Apollinarius used to say: 
" Ignorant physicians are the cause of many deaths." 2 
An ignorant priest, particularly a confessor, who teaches 
false doctrines and gives bad counsels will be the ruin 
of many souls; because, inconsequence of being a priest, 
his errors are easily believed. Hence tvone Carnotensis 
has written: "No one should be admitted to holy Orders 
unless he has given sufficient proofs of good conduct and 
learning." : 

A priest must not only have a competent knowledge 
of all the rubrics necessary for the celebration of Mass, 
but must be also acquainted with the principal things 
that regard the sacrament of penance. It is true, as we 
have said in the preceding chapter of this work, th,at 
every priest is not obliged to hear confessions, unless 
there is great necessity for his assistance in the district 
in which he lives; however, every priest is bound to be 
acquainted with what a priest must ordinarily know in 
order to be able to hear the confessions of dying per 
sons; that is, he is bound to know when he has faculties 
to absolve, when and how he ought to give absolution 
to the sick, whether conditionally or absolutely; what 
obligation he ought to impose on them, if they are under 
any censure. He should also know at least the general 
principles of Moral Theology. 

" Labia enim Sacerdotis custodient scientiam, et legem requirent 
ex ore ejus." Mai. ii. 7. 

2 " Medici parum docti multos occidunt." Lib. 2, ep. 12. 

3 " Nulli ad sacros Ordines sunt promovendi, nisi quos vita et doc- 
trina idoneos probat." 


1 94 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 


The third mark of an ecclesiastical vocation is positive 

Hence, in the first place, the person who is to be 
ordained should be a man of innocent life, and should 
not be contaminated by sins. The Apostle requires that 
they who are to be ordained priests should be free from 
every crime. In ancient times a person who had com 
mitted a single mortal sin could never be ordained, as 
we learn from the First Council of Nice. 1 And St. 
Jerome says that it was not enough for a person to be 
free from sin at the time of his ordination, but that it 
was, moreover, necessary that he should not have fallen 
into mortal sin since the time of his baptism. 2 It is true 
that this rigorous discipline has ceased in the Church, 
but it has been always at least required that he who had 
fallen into grievous sins should purify his conscience 
for a considerable time before his ordination. This we 
may infer from a letter to the Archbishop of Rheims, in 
which Alexander III. commanded that a deacon who had 
wounded another deacon, if he sincerely repented of his 
sin, might, after being absolved, and after performing 
the penance enjoined, be permitted again to exercise his 
Order; and that if he afterwards led a perfect life, he 
might be promoted to priesthood. 3 He, then, who finds 
himself bound by a habit of any vice cannot take any 
holy Order without incurring the guilt of mortal sin. 
" I am horrified," says St. Bernard, 4 " when I think 

1 "Qui confess! sunt peccata, canon (ecclesiasticus ordo) non 
admittit. " Can. 9. 

2 " Ex eo tempore quo in Christo renatus est, nulla peccati consci- 
entia remordeatur." /;/ Tit. I. 

3 " Et si perfectae vitae et conversations fuerit, eum in presbyterum 
(poteris) ordinare." Cap. I, De diacono. Qui cler. 

4 " Horreo considerans unde, quo vocaris, praesertim cum nullum 
intercurrerit pcenitentise tempus. Et quidem rectus ordo requirit ut 
prius propriam, deinde alienas curare studeas conscientias." Epist. 8. 

CHAP, x.] 1 he Vocation to the Priesthood. 195 

whence thou comest, whither thou goest, and what a 
short penance thou hast put between thy sins and thy 
ordination. However, it is indispensable that thou do 
not undertake to purify the conscience of others before 
thou purifiest thy own." Of those daring sinners who, 
though full of bad habits, take priesthood, an ancient 
author, Gildas, says, " It is not to the priesthood that 
they should be admitted, but they should be dragged 
to the pillory." 1 They, then, says St. Isidore, who are 
still subject to the habit of any sin should not be pro 
moted to holy Orders. 2 

But he who intends to ascend the altar must not only 
be free from sin, but must have also begun to walk in 
the path of perfection, and have acquired a habit of 
virtue. In our Moral Theology 3 we have shown in a 
distinct dissertation (and this is the common opinion) 
that if a person in the habit of any vice wish to be 
ordained, it is not enough for him to have the disposi 
tions necessary for the sacrament of penance, but that 
he must also have the dispositions required for receiving 
the sacrament of order; otherwise he is unfit for both: 
and should he receive absolution with the intention of 
taking Orders without the necessary dispositions, he 
and the confessor who absolves him shall be guilty of a 
grievous sin. For it is not enough for those who wish 
to take holy Orders to have left the state of sin: they 
must also, according to the words of Alexander III. (si 
perfects vita et conversionis fiterii], cited in the preceding 
paragraph, have the positive virtue necessary for the 
ecclesiastical state. From the words of the Pontiff we 
learn that a person who has done penance may exercise 

" Multi digniores erant ad catastam poenalem, quam ad Sacer- 
dotium trahi." Cast, in eccl. ord. 

2 " Non sunt promovendi ad regimen Ecclesiae, qui adhUc vitiis sub 
jacent." Sent. \. 3, c. 34. 

3 J heol. moral. \. 6, n. 63, et s. 

196 Material for Sermons. [PARTI. 

an order already received, but he who has only done 
penance cannot take a higher order. The angelic Doc 
tor teaches the same doctrine: " Sanctity is required for 
the reception of holy Orders, and we must place the 
sublime burden of the priesthood only upon walls 
already dried by sanctity; that is, freed from the malig 
nant humor of sin." This is conformable to what St. 
Denis wrote long before: " Let no one be so bold as to 
propose himself to others as their guide in the things of 
God, if he has not first, with all his power, transformed 
himself into God to the point of perfect resemblance to 
him." 2 For this St. Thomas adduces two reasons: the 
first is, that as he who takes orders is raised above seculars 
in dignity, so he should be superior to them in sanctity. 3 
The second reason is, that by his ordination a priest is 
appointed to exercise the most sublime ministry on the 
altar, for which greater sanctity is required than for the 
religious state. 4 

Hence the Apostle forbade Timothy to ordain neo 
phytes; that is, according to St. Thomas, neophytes in 
perfection as well as neophytes in age. 5 Hence the 

1 f< Ordines sacri praeexigunt sanctitatem ; unde pondus Ordinum im- 
ponendum est parietibus jam per sanctitatem desiccatis, id est, ab humore 
vitiorum." 2, 2, q. 189, a. i. 

2 " In divino omni non audendum aliis ducem fieri, nisi secundum 
omnem habitum suum factus sit deiformissimus et Deo simillimus." 
De Eccl. Hier. c. 3. 

3 " Ad idoneam executionem Ordinum, non sufficit bonitas qua- 
liscumque, sed requiritur bonitas excellens, ut, sicut illi, qui Ordinem 
suscipiunt, super plebem constituuntur gradu Ordinis, ita et superi- 
ores sint merito sanctitatis; et ideo prseexigitur gratia quae sufficiat ad 
hoc quod digne connumerentur in plebe Christi." Suppl. q. 35, a. i. 

4 " Quia per sacrum Ordinem aliquis deputatur ad dignissima 
ministeria, quibus- ipsi Christo servitur in Sacramento altaris; ad quod 
requiritur major sanctitas interior, quam requirat etiam religionis 
status." 2. 2, q. 184, a. 8. 

5 " Qui non solum aetate neophyti, sed et qui neophyti sunt perfec- 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 197 

Council of Trent, in reference to the words of Scripture, 
And a spotless life in old age? prescribes to the bishops to 
admit to ordination only those who show themselves 
worthy by a conduct full of wise maturity. 2 And of this 
positive virtue it is necessary, according to St. Thomas, 
to have not a doubtful but a certain knowledge. 3 This, 
according to St. Gregory, is particularly necessary with 
regard to the virtue of chastity: "No one should be 
admitted to the ministry of the altar unless an assurance 
has been given of his perfect chastity." 4 With regard 
to chastity, the holy Pontiff required a proof of many 
years. 5 

From this we may infer that God will demand a 
terrible account of the parish priest who gives to per 
sons aspiring to the priesthood a testimony of their 
having frequented the sacraments and led exemplary 
lives, though they had neglected the frequentation of 
the sacraments, and had given scandal rather than good 
example. Such parish priests by these false attesta 
tions, given not through charity, as they pretend, but 
against the charity due to God and the Church, render 
themselves guilty of all the sins that shall be afterwards 
committed by the bad priests who were ordained in 
consequence of these testimonials. For in this matter 
bishops trust to the testimony of parish priests, and are 
deceived. Nor should a parish priest in giving such 
attestations trust the testimony of others: he cannot 
give them unless he is certain that what he attests is 

1 " ^Etas senectutis, vita immaculata." Wisd. iv. 9. 

" Sciant episcopi debere ad hos (sacros) Ordines assumi dignos 
dumtaxat, et quorum probata vita senectus sit." Sess. 23, cap. 12. 

3 " Sed etiam habeatur certitude de qualitate promovendorum." 
Suppl. q. 36, a. 4. 

4 " Nullus debet ad ministerium altaris accedere, nisi cujus castitas 
ante susceptum ministerium fuerit approbata." Lib. I, ep. 42. 

5 " Ne unquam ii qui ordinati sunt, pereant, prius aspiciatur sr vita 
eorum continens ab annis plurimis fuit." Lib. 3, ep. 26. 

198 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

true, namely, that the ecclesiastic has really led an 
exemplary life, and has frequented the sacraments. 
And as a bishop cannot ordain any person unless he 
be a man of approved chastity, so a confessor cannot 
permit an incontinent penitent to receive ordination 
without having a moral certainty that he is free from 
the bad habit which he had contracted, and that he had 
acquired a habit of the virtue of chastity.* 


To what Dangers one Exposes One s Self by taking Holy 
Orders without a Vocation. 

From what has been said, it follows that he who takes 
holy Orders without the marks of a vocation cannot be 
excused from the guilt of grievous sin. This is the 
doctrine of many theologians, of Habert, of Natalis 
Alexander, of Juenin, and of the continuator of Tour- 
nely. And before them St. Augustine taught the same. 
Speaking of the chastisement inflicted on Core, Dathan, 
and Abiron, who, without being called, attempted to 
exercise the sacerdotal functions, the holy Doctor said: 
" God struck them that they might serve as an example, 
and thus to warn off him who would dare to assume a 
sacred charge. Indeed, this is the chastisement reserved 
for those who would thrust themselves into the office of 
bishop, priest, or deacon." And the reason is, first, be 
cause he who thrusts himself into the sanctuary without 
a divine call cannot be excused from grievous presump- 

1 " Condemnati sunt ut daretur exemplum, ne quis non sibi a Deo 
datum munus pontificatus invaderet. . . . Hoc patiuntur quicumque 
se in episcopatus, aut presbyteratus, aut diaconatus, officium conantur 
ingerere." Serin. 30, E. B. app. 

* We may also see other useful reflections on the virtue required to 
be admitted to holy Orders, in the "Practice of the Love of Jesus 
Christ," Chapter VII, vol. vi. page 382. Eix 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 199 

tion; secondly, because he shall be deprived of the con 
gruous and abundant helps, without which, as Habert 
writes, he shall be absolutely unable to comply with the 
obligations of his state, but shall fulfil them only with 
great difficulty. He will be like a dislocated member, 
which can be used only with difficulty, and which causes 

Hence Bishop Abelly writes: " He who of himself, with 
out inquiring whether he has a vocation or not, thrusts 
himself into the priesthood will no doubt expose himself 
to the great danger of losing his soul; for he commits 
against the Holy Spirit that sin for which, as the Gospel 
says, there is hardly or very rarely any pardon." 

The Lord has declared that his wrath is provoked 
against those who wish to rule in his Church without 
being called by him. On this passage St. Gregory says, 
" It is by themselves and not by the will of the Supreme 
Head that they reign. " Divine vocation is entirely 
wanting to them, and they have followed only the ardor 
of vile cupidity, not certainly to accept, but to usurp this 
sublime dignity. 4 How many intrigues, adulations, en 
treaties, and other means do certain persons employ in 
order to procure ordination, not in obedience to the call 
of God, but through earthly motives ! But woe to such 

1 " Manebitque in corpora Ecclesise velut membrum in corpora 
humano suis sedibus motum, quod servire potest, sed segre admodum 
et cum deformitate. De Ord. p. 3, c. i, 2. 

2 " Qui sciens et volens, nulla divinae vocationis habita ratione, sese 
in sacerdotium intruderet, baud dubie seipsum in apertissimum salutis 
discrimen injiceret, peccando scilicet in Spiritum Sanctum, quod qiii- 
dem peccatum vix aut rarissime dimitti ex Evangelio discimus." Sac. 
chr. p. I, c. 4. 

3 " Ipsi regnaverunt, et non ex me, . . . iratus est furor meus in 
eos." Os. viii. 4. 

4 " Ex se, et non ex arbitrio summi Rectoris, regnant: nequaquam 
divinitus vocati, sed sua cupidine accensi, culmen regiminis rapiunt 
potius quam assequuntur." Past. p. I, c. i. 

2OO Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

men, says the Lord by the prophet Isaias: Woe to you, 
apostate children, . . . that you would take counsel, and not of 
me. 1 On the day of judgment they shall claim a reward, 
but Jesus Christ shall cast them off. Many will say to 
Me in that day, have we not prophesied in Thy name (by 
preaching and teaching), and cast out devils in Thy name 
(by absolving penitent sinners), and done many miracles in 
Thy name (by correcting the wicked, by settling disputes, 
by converting sinners). And then will I prof ess unto them: 
I never knew you; depart from Me, you that work iniquity? 
Priests who have not been called are indeed workmen 
and ministers of God, because they have received the 
sacerdotal character; but they are ministers of iniquity 
and rapine, because they have of their own will, and 
without vocation, intruded themselves into the sheep- 
fold. They have not, as St. Bernard says, 3 received the 
keys, but have taken them by force. They toil, but God 
will not accept; he will, on the contrary, punish their 
works and labors, because they have not entered the 
sanctuary by the straight path. The labor of fools shall 
afflict them that know not how to go to the city? The 
Church, says St. Leo, receives only those whom the Lord 
chooses, and by his election makes fit to be his minis 
ters. 5 But, on the other hand, the Church rejects those 

1 " Vae filii desertores, dicit Dominus, ut faceretis consilium, et non 
ex me !" Isa. xxx. i. 

2 " Multi dicent mihi in ilia die. Domine, Domine. nonne in nomine 
tuo prophetavimus (praedicando, docendo), et in nomine tuo daemonia 
ejecimus (absolvendo poenitentes), et in nomine tuo virtutes multas 
fecimus (corrigendo, lites componendo, errantes reducendo)? Et tune 
confitebor illis: Quh nunquam novi vos: discedite a me, qui opera- 
mini iniquitatem." Matt. vii. 22. 

3 " Tollitis, non accipitis claves; de qtiibus Dominus queritur: Ipsi 
regnaverunt, et non ex me. " De Conv. ad cler. c. 19. 

4 Labor stultorum affliget eos, qui nesciunt in urbem pergere." 
Eccles. x. 15. 

5 "Eos Ecclesia accipit, quos Spiritus Sanctus praeparavit, . . . et 
dignatio coelestis gratia^ gignit." In die ass. SIKZ, s. 2. 

CHAP, x.j The Vocation to the Priesthood. 201 

whom, as St. Peter Darnian has written, God has not 
called; for instead of promoting her welfare, they com 
mit havoc among her members; and instead of edifying, 
they contaminate and destroy her children. 1 

Whom He (the Lord) shall choose, they shall approach to 
Him. 2 God will gladly admit into his presence all whom 
he has called to the priesthood, and will cast off the priest 
whom he has not chosen. St. Ephrem regards as lost 
the man who is so daring as to take the order of priest 
hood without a vocation. "I am astonished," he says, 
"at that which those fools dare to do, who, without the 
grace of vocation through Christ, full of boldness, seek 
to insinuate themselves into the office of the priesthood. 
Miserable beings, that know not that they are preparing 
for themselves an eternal fire." : And Peter de Blois 
has written: "What ruin does not the bold man prepare 
for himself who of the sacrifice makes a sacrilege, and 
of life an instrument of death!" He who errs in his 
vocation exposes himself to greater danger than if he 
transgressed particular precepts; for if he violates a 
particular command, he may rise from his fall, and begin 
again to walk in the right path, but he who errs in his 
vocation mistakes the way itself. Hence the longer he 
travels in it, the more distant he is from his home. To 
him we may justly apply the words of St. Augustine: 
"You run well, but on the wrong road." 5 

It is necessary to be persuaded of the truth of what 
St. Gregory says, that our eternal salvation depends 

1 " Nemo deterius Ecclesiam laedit." Cont. cler. mil. c. 3. 

2 " Quos elegerit (Dominus), appropinquabunt ei." Num. xvi. 5. 

3 " Obstupesco ad ea quse soliti sunt quidam insipientium audere, qui 
temere se conantur ingerere ad munus Sacerdotii assumendum, licet 
non adsciti a gratia Christi: ignorantes, miseri, quod ignem et mortem 
sibi accumulant." Or. de Sacerd. 

4 " Quam perditus est, qui sacrificium in sacrilegium, qui vitam con- 
vertit in mortem." Ep. ad rich. land. 

5 " Bene curris, sed extra viam./ 

2O2 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

principally on embracing the state to which God has 
called us. 1 The reason is evident: for it is God that 
destines, according to the order of his Providence, his 
state of life for each individual, and according to the 
state to which he calls him, prepares for him abundant 
graces and suitable helps. " In the distribution of graces," 
says St. Cyprian, " the Holy Spirit takes into considera 
tion his own plan and not our caprices." 1 And accord 
ing to the Apostle: And whom He predestinated, them He 
also called. And whom He called, them He also justified? 
Thus to vocation succeeds justification, and to justifica 
tion, glory; that is, the attainment of eternal life. He, 
then, who does not obey the call of God shall neither be 
justified nor glorified. Father Granada justly said that 
vocation is the main wheel of our entire life. As in a 
clock, if the main wheel be spoiled the entire clock is 
injured, so, says St. Gregory Nazianzen, if a person err 
in his vocation his whole life will be full of errors; for 
in the state to which God has not called him he will be 
deprived of the helps by which he can with facility lead 
a good life. 

Every one, says St. Paul, hath his proper gift from God; 
one after this manner, and another after that.* The mean 
ing of this passage, according to St. Thomas and other 
commentators, is, that the Lord gives to each one graces 
to fulfil with ease the obligations of the state to which 
he calls him. "God," says the angelic Doctor, "gives 
to every man not only certain aptitudes, but also all that 
is necessary to exercise them." And in another place 

1 "A vocatione pendet aeternitas." 

2 "Ordine suo, non nostro arbitrio, Sancti Spiritus virtus ministra- 
tur. " De Sing. clcr. 

3 " Quos praedestinavit, hos et vocavit; et quos vocavit, hos et justi- 
ficavit; quos autem justificavit, illos et glorificavit." Rom. viii. 30. 

4 " Unusquisque proprium donum habet ex Deo: alius quidem sic, 
alius vero sic." i Cor. vii. 7, 

5 " Cuicumque datur potentia aliqua divinitus, dantur etiam ea per 
quae executio illius poientiae possit congrue fieri." Suppl. q. 35, a. i. 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 203 

he writes: "God does not destine men to such or such a 
vocation without favoring them with gifts at the same 
time, and preparing them in such a way as to render 
them capable of fulfilling the duties of their vocation; 
for, says St. Paul: Our sufficiency is from God, who also 
hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament? As each 
person, then, will be able to discharge with facility the 
office to which God elects him, so he will be unfit for the 
fulfilment of the office to which God does not call him. 
The foot, which is given to enable us to walk, cannot see; 
the eye, which is given to see, is incapable of hearing; 
and how shall he whojs not chosen by God to the priest 
hood be able to discharge its obligations? 

It belongs to the Lord to choose the workmen who are 
to cultivate his vineyard: I have chosen you, . . . and have 
appointed you that you should go, and should bring forth fruit? 
Hence the Redeemer did not say, Beg of men to go and 
gather the harvest; but he tells us to ask the master of 
the crop to send workmen to collect it. 3 Hence he also 
said: As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you." When 
God calls, he himself, says St. Leo, gives the necessary 
helps. 5 This is what Jesus Christ has said: I am the door. 
By Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and he shall go 
in, and go out, and shall find pastures. 6 " He shall go in:" 7 

1 " Illos quos Deus ad aliquid eligit, ita praeparat et disponit, tit ad 
id ad quod eliguntur, inveniantur idonei, secundum illud: Idoneos 
nos fecit ministros Novi Testament!. " (2 Cor. iii. 5.) P. 3, q. 27^ a. 4. 

2 " Ego elegi vos, et posui vos, ut eatis et fructum afferatis." 
John, xv. 1 6. 

3 " Rogate ergo dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem 
suam." Ltike, x 2. 

4 " Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." John, xx. 21. 

5 Qai mihi honoris est auctor, ipse mihi fiet administrationum adju- 
tor; dabit virtutem, qui contulit dignitatem." In die ass. sucz, s. i. 

6 " Ego sum ostium. Per me si quis introierit, salvabitur; et ingre- 
dietur, et egredietur, et pascua inveniet." John, x. g. 

r " Ingjedietur. " 

204 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

what the priest called by God undertakes, he shall easily 
accomplish without sin, and with merit. And shall go 
otit: 1 he shall be in the midst of perils and occasions of 
sin, but with the divine aid he shall readily escape injury. 
And shall find pastures: finally, in consequence of being 
in the state in which God has placed him, he will be as 
sisted in all the duties of his ministry by special graces, 
which will make him advance in perfection. Hence he 
will be able to say with confidence, The Lord ruleth me: 
and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of 

But priests whom God has not sent to work in his 
Church he shall abandon to eternal ignominy and de 
struction. / did not send prophets, says the Lord by the 
prophet Jeremiah, yet they ran. He afterwards adds: 
Therefore I will take you away, carrying you, and will for 
sake you; . . . and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon 
you, and a perpetual shame which shall never be forgotten? 

In order to be raised to the sublimity of the priesthood, 
it is necessary, as St. Thomas says, for a man " to be ex 
alted and elevated by divine power above the natural 
order of things," 5 because he is appointed the sanctifier 
of the people, and the vicar of Jesus Christ. But in him 
who raises himself to so great a dignity shall be verified 
the words of the Wise Man: There is that hath appeared a 
fool after he was lifted up on high* Had he remained in 

1 " Et egredietur." 

2 " Et pascua inveniet." 

3 " Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit; in loco pascuae ibi me 
collocavit." Ps. xxii. i. 

4 " Non mittebam prophetas, et ipsi currebant. Propterea ecce ego 
tollam vos p6rtans, et derelinquam vos; . . . et dabo vos in oppro 
brium sempiternum, et in ignominiam aeternam, quae nunquam obli- 
vione delebitur." Jer. xxiii. 21-39. 

5 " Ut divina virtute evehatur, et transmittatur supra naturalem re- 
rum ordinem." Habert, de Ord. p. 3, c. i, 2. 

6 " Stultus apparuit, postquam elevatus est in sublime." P_rov. 
xxx. 32. 

CHAF. x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 205 

the world, he should perhaps have been a virtuous lay 
man; but having become a priest without a vocation, he 
will be a bad priest, and instead of promoting the interest 
of religion, he will do great injury to the Church. Of 
such priests the Roman Catechism says: "Such minis 
ters are for the Church of God the gravest embarrass 
ment and the most terrible scourge." ] And what good 
can be expected from the priest who has entered the 
sanctuary without a vocation? " It is impossible," says 
St. Leo, " that a work so badly begun should finish 
well." 2 St. Laurence Justinian has written: "What 
fruit, I ask, can come from a corrupted root?" 3 Our 
Saviour has said, Every plant which My heavenly Father 
hath not planted shall be rooted up? Hence Peter de Blois 
writes that when God permits a person to be ordained 
without a vocation, the permission is not a grace, but a 
chastisement. For a tree which has not taken deep 
root, when exposed to the tempest shall soon fall and 
be cast into the fire. 5 And St. Bernard says that he who 
has not lawfully entered the sanctuary shall continue to 
be unfaithful; and instead of procuring the salvation of 
souls, he shall be the cause of their death and perdition. 6 
This is conformable to the doctrine of Jesus Christ: He 

1 " Hujusmodi hominum genere nihil infelicius, nihil Ecclesiae Dei 
calamitosius esse potest." P. 2, c. 7, q. 3. 

2 " Difficile est ut bono peragantur exitu, quae malo sunt inchoata 
principio." Epist. 87. 

3 "Qualem, oro, potest fructum producere corrupta radix TDe 

" Omnis plantatio, quam non plantavit Pater meus coelestis, eradi- 
cabitur." Matt. xv. 13. 

5 " Ira est, non gratia, cum quis ponitur super ventum, nullas habens 
radices in soliditate virtutum." De inst. ep. c. 3. 

6 "Qui non fideliter introivit, quidni infideliter agat et contra Chris 
tum? faciet ad quod venit, ut mactet utique et disperdat." De Vita 
cler. c. 7. 

206 Material for Sermons. [PART i. 

that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, . . . the same 
is a thief and a robber? 

Some may say, if they only were admitted to orders 
who have the marks of vocation which have been laid 
down as indispensable, there should be but few priests 
in the Church, and the people should be left without the 
necessary helps. But to this the Fourth Council of 
Lateran has answered: "It is much better to confer the 
priesthood on a small number of virtuous clerics than to 
have a large number of bad priests." 2 And St. Thomas 
says that God never abandons his Church so as to leave 
her in want of fit ministers to provide for the necessity 
of the people. 3 St. Leo justly says that to provide for 
the wants of the people by bad priests would be not to 
save but to destroy them. 4 

If, then, a priest has been ordained without a vocation, 
what must he do? 5 Must he look on himself as lost? 
must he abandon himself to despair? No. St. Gregory 
has asked the same question. He answers: " He must 
lament." Behold what such a priest must do if he 
wish to save his soul: " He must lament;" 6 he must 
weep, and seek to appease the anger of God by tears 
and by repentance, and to move him to pardon the great 
sin that he committed in thrusting himself into the 
sanctuary without a divine call. He must, as St. Bernard 
exhorts, endeavor to attain after his ordination the 
sanctity of life which ought to precede it. 7 He must 

1 " Qui non intrat per ostium, . . . ille fur est et latro. Fur non 
venit nisi ut furetur, et mactet, et perdat." John, x. i-io. 

2 " Satius est maxime in ordinatione sacerdotum paucos bonos quam 
multos malos habere." Cap. 27. 

3 " Deus nunquam ita deserit Ecclesiam suam, quin inveniantur 
idonei ministri sufficientes ad necessitatem plebis." Suppl. q. 36, a. 4. 

4 " Non est hoc consulere populis, sed nocere." Epist. 87. 

5 " Sacerdos sum non vocatus; quid faciendum?" 

6 " Ingemiscendum." 

1 "Si vitse sanctitas non praecessit, sequatur saltern." 

CHAP, x.] The Vocation to the Priesthood. 207 

change his conduct, his conversation and pursuits. " Let 
all be holy your life and your works," 1 continues the 
saint. If he is ignorant, he must study; if he has spent 
his time in worldly conversations and amusements, he 
must change them into meditations, spiritual reading, 
and visits to the churches. But to do this he must use 
violence to himself; for, as has been already said, since 
he has entered the sanctuary without a vocation, he is 
but a dislocated member, and therefore he must work 
out his salvation with great difficulty and great labor. 
But if in consequence of having become a priest without 
a divine call, he is, as has been shown, bereft of the helps 
necessary to enable him to discharge with facility the 
obligations of the priesthood, how shall he without these 
helps fulfil the sacerdotal duties ? Habert, 2 and the con- 
tinuator of Tournely, 3 say, let him pray, and by his 
prayers he shall obtain that assistance which he does 
not deserve. 4 This is conformable to the doctrine of 
the Council of Trent: " God commands not impossibili 
ties, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do 
what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not 
able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able." 5 

1 " Bonas fac de caetero vias tuas et studia tua." Epist. 27. 

2 De Ord. p. 3, c. i, 2. 

3 De Oblig. cler. c. i, a. I, concl. 3. 

" Deus tune ex misericordia ea homini largitur auxilia, qu<e le- 
gitime vocatis ex qualicumque justhia debet." 

" Deus impossibilia non jubet; sed jubendo monet, et facere quod 
possis, et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis." Sess. 6, 
cap. ii. 





Importance of the Holy Sacrifice and what it Exacts of the 


For every high-priest taken from among men is ordained 
for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer 
up gifts and sacrifices for sins. 1 The priest, then, is placed 
by God in the Church in order to offer sacrifice. This 
office is peculiar to the priests of the Law of grace, to 
whom has been given the power of offering the great 
sacrifice of the body and blood of the Son of God a 
sacrifice sublime and perfect in comparison with the 
ancient sacrifices, the entire perfection of which con 
sisted in being the shadow and figure of our sacrifice. 
They were sacrifices of calves and oxen, but ours is the 
sacrifice of the eternal Word made Man. Of themselves 
they had no efficacy, and were therefore called by St. 
Paul weak and needy elements? But ours has power to 
obtain the remission of the temporal penalties due to sins, 

1 "Omnis namque Pontifex, ex hominibus assumptus, pro homini- 
bus constituitur in iis quae sunt ad Deum, ut offerat dona et sacrificia 
pro peccatis." Hcb. v. i. 

2 " Infirma et egena elementa." Gal. iv. 9. 

INSTR. i.i The Celebration of Mass. 209 

and to procure an augmentation of grace, and more 
abundant helps for those in whose behalf it is offered. 

The priest who has not a just idea of the Mass shall 
never offer that holy sacrifice as he ought. Jesus Christ 
performed no action on earth greater than the celebra 
tion of Mass. In a word, of all actions that can be per 
formed, the Mass is the most holy and dear to God; as 
well on account of the oblation presented to God, that 
is, Jesus Christ, a victim of infinite dignity, as on account 
of the first offerer, Jesus Christ, who offers himself on 
the altar by the hand of the priest. " The same now 
offering," says the Council of Trent, "by the ministry 
of priests, who then offered himself on the cross." St. 
John Chrysostom said: " When you see a priest offering, 
do not believe that this is done by the hand of a priest; 
the offering is made rather by the hand of God invisibly 
stretched out." 5 

All the honors that the angels by their homages, and 
men by their virtues, penances, and martyrdoms, and 
other holy works, have ever given to God could not give 
him as much glory as a single Mass. For all the honors 
of creatures are finite honors, but the honor given to 
God in the sacrifice of the altar, because it proceeds 
from a divine person, is an infinite honor. Hence we 
must confess that of all actions the Mass, as the Council 
of Trent says, is the most holy and divine: "We must 
needs confess that no other work can be performed by 
the faithful so holy and divine as this tremendous mys 
tery itself." 3 It is, then, as we have seen, an action the 

1 " Idem nunc offerens, Sacerdotum ministerio, qui seipsum tune in 
cruce obtulit." Sess. 22, cap. 2. 

2 " Cum videris Sacerdotem offerentem, ne ut Sacerdotem esse. 
putes, sed Christ! manum invisibiliter extensam." Ad pop. Ant. 
horn. 60. 

3 " Necessario fatemur nullum aliud opus adeo sanctum ac divinum 
a Christ! fidelibus tractari posse, quam hoc tremendum mysterium. 
Sess. 22, Deer, de obs. in eel. M. 


210 Material for Instructions. [PARTII. 

most holy and dear to God an action that appeases 
most efficaciously the anger of God against sinners, that 
beats down most effectually the powers of hell, that 
brings to men on earth the greatest benefits, and that 
affords to the souls in purgatory the greatest relief. It 
is, in fine, an action in which, as St. Udone, Abbot of 
Cluni, has written, consists the entire salvation of the 
world: " Of all the favors granted to me this is the 
greatest: it is truly by the most generous ardor of his 
love that God instituted this mystery, without which 
there would be no salvation in this world." ] And speak 
ing of the Mass, Timothy of Jerusalem said that by it 
the world is preserved. 2 But for the Mass the earth 
should have long since perished on account of the sins 
of men. 

St. Bonaventure says that in each Mass God bestows 
on the world a benefit not inferior to that which he 
conferred by his incarnation. 3 This is conformable to 
the celebrated words of St. Augustine: " O venerable dig 
nity of the priests, in whose hands, as in the womb of the 
Virgin, the Son of God became incarnate!"^ Moreover, 
St. Thomas teaches that since the sacrifice of the altar 
is nothing else than the application and renewal of the 
sacrifice of the cross, a single Mass brings to men the 
same benefits and salvation that were produced by the 

1 " Hoc beneficium majus est inter omnia bona quae hominibus 
concessa sunt, et hoc est quod Deus majori charitate mortalibus 
indulsit, quia in hoc mysterio salus mundi tota consistit." Collat, 1. 
2, c. 28. 

2 " Per quam orbis terrae consistit." Or. de proph. Sim. 

3 " Non minus videtur facere Deus in hoc quod quotidie dignatur 
descendere de coelo super altare, quam cum naturam humani generis 
assumpsit." De Inst. Novit. p. I, c. n. 

4 "O veneranda Sacerdotum dignitas, in quorum manibus, velut in 
utero Virginis, Filius Dei incarnatur." Molina, Instr. Sac. tr. i, c. 
5, 2. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 211 

sacrifice of the cross. 1 St. John Chrysostom says: " The 
celebration of a Mass has the same value as the death of 
Christ on the cross." 2 And of this we are still more 
assured by the holy Church in the Collect for the Sun 
day aft er Pentecost: " As many times as this commemo 
rative sacrifice is celebrated, so often is the work of our 
redemption performed." 1 The same Redeemer who 
once offered himself on the cross is immolated on the 
altar by the ministry of his priests. " For the victim is 
one and the same," says the Council of Trent: "the 
same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then 
offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offer 
ing being different."" 

In a word, the Mass is, according to the prediction of 
the prophet, " the good and the beautiful thing" of the 
Church: For what is the good thing of him, and what is his 
beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect and wine springing 
forth virgins?* In the Mass, Jesus Christ gives himself 
to us by means of the most holy sacrament of the altar, 
which is the end and object of all the other sacraments, 
says the angelic Doctor. 6 Justly, then, has St. Bona- 
venture called the Mass a compendium of all God s love 
and of all his benefits to men. 7 Hence the devil has 

1 " In qualibet Missa invenitur omnis fructus quern Christus operatus 
est in cruce." J. Herolt,De Sanct. s. 48. " Quidquid est effectus 
Dominicae passionis, est effectus hujus Sacramend." In Jo. 6, lect. 6. 

2 " Tantum valet celebratio Missse, quantum mors Christ! in cruce." 
/. Herolt, De Sanct. s. 48. 

3 "Quoties hujus Hostise commemoratio celebratur, opus nostrae 
redemptionis exercetur." Miss. Doni. 9 /. Pent. 

4 " Una enim eademque est Hostia, idem nunc offerens Sacerdotum 
ministerio, qui seipsum tune in cruce obtulit, sola offerendi ratione 
di versa." Sess. 22, cap. 2. 

5 "Quid enim bonum ejus est, et quid pulchrum ejus, nisi frumentum 
electorum, et vinum germinans virgines?" Zach. ix. 17. 

"Sacramenta in Eucharistia consummantur." P. 3, q. 65, a. 3. 

" Et ideo hoc est memoriale totius dilectionis suse, et quasi com 
pendium quoddam omnium beneficiorum suorum." De Inst. Novit . 
p. i, c. ii. 

2 1 2 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

always sought to deprive the world of the Mass by 
means of the heretics, constituting them precursors of 
Antichrist, whose first efforts shall be to abolish the 
holy sacrifice of the altar, and, according to the prophet 
Daniel, in punishment of the sins of men, his. efforts 
shall be successful: And strength was given him against the 
continual sacrifice because of sins? 

Most justly, then, does the holy Council of Trent re 
quire of priests to be most careful to celebrate Mass 
with the greatest possible devotion and purity of con 
science: "It is sufficiently clear that all industry and 
diligence is to be applied to this end, that it (the mys 
tery) be performed with the greatest possible inward 
cleanness and purity of heart." 2 And in the same place 
the Council justly remarks, that on priests who celebrate 
this great sacrifice negligently, and without devotion, 
shall fall the malediction threatened by the prophet 
Jeremiah: Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord 
negligently? And St. Bonaventure says that he who 
approaches the altar without reverence and considera 
tion, celebrates or communicates unworthily. 4 In order, 
then, to avoid this malediction, let us see what the 
priest must do before Mass, during Mass, and after 
Mass. Before Mass preparation is necessary, during 
the celebration of Mass reverence and devotion are neces 
sary, after Mass thanksgiving is necessary. A servant 
of God used to say that the life of a priest should be 
nothing else than preparation and thanksgiving for 

1 " Robur autem datum est ei contra juge Sacrificium propter 
peccata." Dan. viii. 12. 

2 " Satis apparet omnem operam et diligentiam in eo ponendam 
esse, ut quanta maxima fieri potest interiori cordis munditia pera- 
gatur." Sess. 22, Deer, de obs. in eel. M. 

3 " Maledictus, qui facit opus Domini fraudulenter." Jer. xlviii. 10. 

4 " Cave ne nimis tepidus accedas; quia indigne sumis, si non 
accedis reverenter et considerate." De Pnep. ad M. c. 5. 

INSTR. i.] Tke Celebration of Mass. 213 


The Preparation for Mass. 

In the first place, then, the priest must make his prep 
aration before Mass. 

Before we come to practice, I ask how does it happen 
that there are so many priests in the world and so few 
holy priests? St. Francis de Sales 1 called the Mass a 
mystery which comprises the entire abyss of divine love. 
St. John Chrysostom used to say that the most holy 
sacrament of the altar is the treasure of all God s benig 
nity. 2 There is no doubt that the Holy Eucharist has 
been instituted for all the faithful, but it is a gift be 
stowed in a special manner on priests. Give not, says 
our Lord, addressing priests, that which is holy to dogs ; 
neither cast ye your pearls before swine. 6 Mark the words 
your pearls. In the Greek the consecrated particles are 
called pearls ; but these pearls are called, as it were, the 
property of priests: your pearls. Hence, as St. John 
Chrysostom says, every priest should leave the altar all 
inflamed with divine love, so as to strike terror into the 
powers of hell: " Like lions breathing forth fire should 
we leave that table, so that we may become terrible to 
the devil." 4 But this is not the case. The greater num 
ber depart from the altar always more tepid, more im 
patient, proud, jealous, and more attached to self-esteem, 
to self-interest, and to earthly pleasures. " The defect 
is not in the food," 5 says Cardinal Bona. The defect 

1 Introd. p. 2, ch. 14. 

2 " Dicendo Eucharistiam, omnem benignitatis Dei thesaurum 
aperio." In I Cor. horn. 24. 

3 " Nolite dare sanctum canibus, neque mittatis margaritas vestras 
ante porcos." Matt. vii. 6. 

4 " Tamquam leones ignem spirantes ab ilia mensa recedamus. 
facti diabolo terribiles." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 61. 

5 " Defectus non in cibo est, sed in edentis dispositione " De 
Sacr. M. c. 6, 6, 

214 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

does not arise from the food that they take on the altar; 
for, as St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say, that 
food taken once would be sufficient to make them saints, 
but it arises from the little preparation that they make 
for the celebration of Mass. 

Preparation for Mass is twofold: remote and proxi 

The remote preparation consists in the pure and vir 
tuous life that a priest should lead in order to celebrate 
worthily. If God required purity in the priests of the 
Old Law because they had to carry the sacred vessels, 
Be ye clean, you that carry the vessels of the Lord? how 
much greater should be the purity and sanctity of the 
priest who has to carry in his hands and in his body the 
Incarnate Word, says Peter de Blois! 2 But to be pure 
and holy it is not enough for the priest to be exempt 
from mortal sins: he must be also free from venial sins 
that are fully deliberate; otherwise he shall have no 
part with Jesus Christ. " Let no one," says St. Bernard, 
" disregard little faults, for thus it was said to Peter, 
that unless Christ purifies of them, we shall have no 
part in Christ." 5 Hence all the actions and words of 
the priest who wishes to celebrate Mass must be holy, 
and serve to prepare him for the worthy celebration of 
the sacred mysteries. 

For the immediate preparation, mental prayer is, in the 
first place, necessary. How can the priest celebrate 
Mass with devotion without having first made mental 
prayer? The Venerable John d Avila used to say that 
a priest should make mental prayer for an hour or, at 
least, half an hour, before Mass. I would be content 

1 " Mundamini, qui fertis vasa Domini." Is. Hi. n. 

2 " Quarito mundiores esse oportet, qui in manibus et in corpore 
portant Christum." Epist. 123. 

3 " Haec nemo contemnat, quoniam ut audivit Petrus nisi laverit 
ea Christus, non habebimus partem cum eo." S. in Ccena Dom. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 215 

with half an hour, or, and for some, with even a quarter 
of an hour; but a quarter is too little. There are so 
many beautiful books containing meditations prepara 
tory to Mass, but who makes use of them ? It is through 
neglect of meditation that we see so many Masses said 
without devotion and with irreverence. The Mass is a 
representation of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Hence 
Pope Alexander I. justly said that in the Mass we should 
always commemorate the Passion of our Lord. 1 And 
before him the Apostle said: For as often as you shall eat 
this bread and drink the chalice, yon shall show the death of 
the Lord until He come? According to St. Thomas, 3 the 
Redeemer has instituted the most holy sacrament that 
we might always have a lively remembrance of the love 
that he has shown us, and of the great benefits that he 
obtained for us by offering himself in sacrifice on the 
cross. But if all should continually remember the Pas 
sion of Jesus Christ, how much more should the priest 
reflect on it when he goes to renew on the altar, though 
in a different manner, the same sacrifice which the Son 
of God offered on the cross ! 

Moreover, even though he had made his meditation, 
the priest should before he begins Mass always recollect 
himself at least for a short time, and consider what he 
is going to do. The Council of Milan, in the time of 
St. Charles, ordained that all priests should do so. 4 In 
entering the sacristy to celebrate Mass the priest should 
take leave of all worldly thoughts, and say with St. 
Bernard: " Ye cares, solicitudes, earthly troubles, remain 

" Inter Missarum solemnia, semper passio Domini miscenda est, 
ut ejus, cujus corpus et sanguis conficitur, passio celebretur." 
Epist. i. 

2 " Quotiescumque enim manducabitis Panem hunc, et Calicem 
bibetis, mortem Domini annuntiabitis." i Cor. xi. 26. 

3 Offic. Corp. Chr. 

4 "Antequam celebrent, se colligant, et orantes mentem in tanti 
ministerii cogitatione defigant," Const, p. 2, n. 5. 

2 1 6 Material for Instructions. [PART n 

here: let me go freely to my God, with all my intelli 
gence and with all my heart, and when we have adored 
we shall return to you; we shall return, alas! and we 
shall return too soon." In a letter to St. Jane Chantal, 
St. Francis de Sales said: When I turn to the altar to 
begin Mass, I lose sight of everything on this earth. 
Hence, during the celebration of Mass, the priest should 
take leave of all worldly thoughts, and should think 
only of the great action that he is going to perform, 
and of the heavenly bread he is going to eat at the 
divine table. When thou shalt sit to eat with a prince, 
says Solomon, consider diligently what is set before thy 
face. 2 Let him consider that he is going to call from 
heaven to earth the Incarnate Word; to treat with 
him familiarly on the altar; to offer him again to 
the eternal Father; and finally to partake of his 
sacred flesh. In preparing to celebrate, Father John 
d Avila would endeavor to excite his fervor by say 
ing: "I am now going to. consecrate the Son of God, 
to hold him in my hands, to converse and treat with 
him, and to receive him into my heart." 

The priest should also consider that he ascends the 
altar to perform the office of intercessor for all sinners, 
says St. Laurence Justinian. 3 Thus the priest on the 
altar stands between God and men, presents their peti 
tions, and obtains for them the divine graces, says St. 
Chrysostom. 4 It is for this reason, says St. Thomas, 

1 "Curse, sollicitudines, servitutes, exspectate me hie, donee ego 
cum puero, ratio cum intelligentia, usque illuc properantes, postquam 
adoraverimus, revertamur ad vos; revertemur enim, et, heu ! rever- 
temur quam citissime." De Antore Dei, c. i. 

" 2 " Quando sederis ut comedas cum principe, diligenter attende 
quae apposita sunt ante faciem tuam." Prov. xxiii. i. 

3 " Mediatoris gerit officium; propterea delinquentium omnium debet 
esse precator." Serm. dc Euchar. 

4 " Medius stat Sacerdos inter Deum et naturam humanam, illinc 
venientia beneficia ad nos deferens," In fsaiatn, horn. 5. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 2 1 7 

that the sacrifice of the altar is called the Mass: "On 
this account it is called Mass, because the priest sends 
his prayers to God through the angel, and the people 
send them through the priest." In the Old Law the 
priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies only 
once in the year; but now every priest is allowed to 
immolate every day the Lamb of God, in order to obtain 
the divine graces for himself and the entire people, 
says St. Laurence Justinian. 2 Hence, according to St. 
Bonaventure, in going to celebrate, a priest should pro 
pose to himself three ends: to honor God, to com 
memorate the Passion of Jesus Christ, and to obtain 
graces for the whole Church. 3 


The Reverence and the Devotion with which the Priest should 
Celebrate Mass. 

Secondly, it is necessary to celebrate Mass with rev 
erence and devotion. It is well known that the mani 
ple was introduced for the purpose of wiping away the 
tears of devotion that flowed from the eyes of the priest; 
for in former times priests wept continually during the 
celebration of Mass. It has been already said that a 
priest on the altar represents the very person of Jesus 
Christ, says St. Cyprian. 4 There he says in the person 
of Jesus Christ, hoc est corpus mcum: hie est calix sanguinis 

" Propter hoc Missa nominatur, quia per Angelum Sacerdos preees 
ad Deum mittit, sicut populus ad Sacerdotem." P. 3, q. 83, a. 4. 

" Ipsis profecto Sacerdotibus licet, non tantum semel in anno, ut 
olim, sed diebus singulis introire Sancta Sanctorum, et tarn pro ipsis 
quam pro populi reconciliatione, offerre Hostiam." De Inst. prcel. c. 

3 " Tria sunt, quae celebraturus intenderedebet, scilicet: Deum colere, 
Christi mortem memorari, et totam Ecclesiam juvare." De Pra>p. ad 
M. c. 9. 

4 " Sacerdos vice Christi vcre fungitur." Epist. ad Gzcil. 

2 1 8 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

met. But, O God! it would be necessary to weep, and 
even to shed tears of blood, at the manner in which 
many priests celebrate Mass. It excites compassion to 
see the contempt with which some priests and religious, 
and even priests of the reformed Orders, treat Jesus 
Christ on the altar. Observe with what kind of atten 
tion certain priests celebrate Mass. I hope their num 
ber is small. Of them we may well say what Clement 
of Alexandria said of the pagan priests, that they turned 
heaven into a stage, and God into the subject of the 
comedy. 1 But why do I say a comedy ? Oh! how great 
would be their attention if they had to recite a part in 
a comedy ! But with what sort of attention do they 
celebrate Mass? Mutilated words; genuflexions that 
appear to be acts of contempt rather than of reverence; 
benedictions which I know not what to call. They 
move and turn on the altar in a disrespectful manner; 
they confound the words with the ceremonies which 
they perform before the time prescribed by the rubrics, 
although these rubrics are, according to the true opin 
ion, all preceptive. For St. Pius V. in the Bull inserted 
in the Missal commands us " strictly, by virtue of holy 
obedience," 2 to celebrate Mass according to the rubrics 
of the Missal: "According to the rite, mode, and norm 
prescribed in the Missal." : Hence he who violates the 
rubrics cannot be excused from sin, and he who is 
guilty of a grievous neglect of them cannot be excused 
from mortal sin. 

All arises from an anxiety to have the Mass soon 
finished. Some say Mass with as much haste as if the 
walls were about to fall, or as if they expected to be 

1 "O impietatem! scenam coelum fecistis, et Deus vobis factus est 
actus." Or. ad Gent. 

2 " Districte, in virtute sanctae obedientiae." 

3 " Juxta ritum, modum, ac normam, quae per Missale hoc a nobis 
nunc traditur." 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 2 1 9 

attacked by pirates without getting time to fly away. 
Some priests spend two hours in useless conversation, 
or in treating of worldly affairs, and are all haste in 
celebrating Mass. As they begin the Mass without rev 
erence, so they proceed to consecrate, to take Jesus 
Christ in their hands, and to communicate with as much 
irreverence as if the holy sacrament were common 
bread. They should be told what the Venerable John 
d Avila said one day to a priest who celebrated with 
haste and irreverence: " For God s sake treat him better, 
for he is the Son of a good Father." 

The Lord commanded the priests of the Old Law to 
tremble through reverence in approaching his sanctuary: 
Reverence. My sanctuary? And still we see scandalous 
irreverence in priests of the New Law while they stand 
at the altar in the presence of Jesus Christ; while they 
converse with him, take him in their hands, offer him in 
sacrifice, and eat his flesh. In the Old Law the Lord 
threatened several maledictions against priests who 
neglected the ceremonies of sacrifices, which were but 
figures of our sacrifice. But if Thou wilt not hear the 
voice of the Lord thy God, to keep . . . all His ceremonies, 
.... all these curses shall come upon thee; .... cursed 
shalt thou be in the city, cursed in the field? St. Teresa used 
to say: " I would give my life for a ceremony of the 
Church." ; And will a priest despise the ceremonies of 
the holy Mass ? Suarez 4 teaches that the omission of 
any ceremony prescribed in the Mass cannot be excused 
from sin; and it is the opinion of many theologians, that 
a notable neglect of the ceremonies may be a mortal sin. 

1 " Pavete ad Sanctuarium meum." Lev. xxvi. 2. 

2 " Quod si audire nolueris vocem Domini Dei tui, ut custodias 
. . . caeremonias, . . . venient super te omnes maledictiones istae. 
. . . Maledictus eris in civitate, maledictus in agro." Deut. xxviii. 15. 

3 Life, ch. 33. 

4 De Sacram. d. 84, s. 2. 

22O Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

In my Moral Theology I have shown, by the author 
ity of many theologians, that to celebrate Mass in less 
than a quarter of an hour cannot be excused from 
grievous sin. This doctrine rests on two reasons: first, 
the irreverence that in so short a Mass is offered to the 
holy sacrifice; secondly, the scandal that is given to the 

As to the reverence due to the sacrifice, we have ad 
duced the words of the Council of Trent, commanding 
priests to celebrate Mass with the greatest possible de 
votion: " All industry and diligence are to be applied 
that it be performed with the greatest possible outward 
show of devotion and piety." 2 The Council adds, that to 
neglect even this external devotion due to the sacrifice 
is a species of impiety: " Irreverence that can hardly be 
separated from impiety. " ; As the due performance of 
the ceremonies constitutes reverence, so to perform them 
badly is an irreverence which, when grievous, is a mor 
tal sin. And to perform the ceremonies with the rever 
ence due to so great a sacrifice, it is not enough to go 
through them; for some who are very quick in their 
articulation and motions may be able to perform the 
ceremonies in less than a quarter of an hour, but it is 
necessary to perform them with becoming gravity, 
which belongs intrinsically to the reverence due to the 

To celebrate Mass in so short a time is also a grievous 
sin on account of the scandal given to the people who 
are present. And here it is necessary to consider what the 
same Council of Trent says in another place, that the 
ceremonies have been instituted by the Church in order 

. mor. 1. 6, n. 400. 

2 " Omnem operam ponendam esse, ut quanta maxima fieri potest 
exteriori devotionis ac pietatis specie peragatur. " Deer, de obs. in M. 

3 " Irreverentia, quae ab impietate vix sejuncta esse potest." Sess. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 221 

to excite in the faithful the veneration and esteem due 
to so great a sacrifice, and to the most sublime mysteries 
that it contains. "The Church," says the holy Coun 
cil, " has employed ceremonies, whereby both the maj 
esty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended and 
the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible 
signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of 
those most sublime things which are hidden in this 
sacrifice." 1 But instead of inspiring reverence, these 
ceremonies, when performed with great haste, diminish 
and destroy the veneration of the people for so holy a 
mystery. Peter de Blois says that the irreverence with 
which Mass is celebrated makes people think little of 
the most holy sacrament. 2 This scandal cannot be ex 
cused from mortal sin. Hence in the year 1583 the 
Council of Tours ordained that priests should be well 
instructed in the ceremonies of the Mass: " For fear that 
the people intrusted to their care, far from entertaining 
veneration for our divine mysteries, might regard them 
only with indifference." : 

How can priests expect by Masses said with such 
irreverence to obtain graces from God, when during the 
oblation of these Masses they offend and dishonor him 
more than they honor him ? Should a priest not believe 
in the most holy sacrament of the altar, he would offend 
God; but it is a still greater offence to believe in it, and to 
celebrate Mass without due reverence, and thus make 
the people who are present lose their veneration for the 

1 " Ecclesia caeremonias adhibuit, quo et majestas tanti Sacrificii com- 
mendaretur, et mentes fidelium, per haec visibilia religionis signa, ad 
rerum altissimarum , quae in hoc Sacrificio latent, contemplationem ex- 
citarentur." Sess. 22, De Sacrif. M. c. 5. 

2 " Ex inordinata et indisciplinata multitudine Sacerdotum, hodie 
datur ostentui nostrae redemptionis venerabile Sacramentum." Epist. 

3 " Ne populum sibi commissum a devotione potius revocent, quam 
ad sacrorum mysteriorum venerationem invitent." 

222 Material for Instructions . [PART n. 

holy sacrament. In the beginning the Jews respected 
Jesus Christ, but when they saw him despised by their 
priests they lost their esteem for him, and in the end 
joined in the cry of the priests: "Away with this man; 
crucify him!" J And in like manner, seculars, seeing a 
priest treat the Mass with such irreverence, lose their 
respect and veneration for it. A Mass said with rever 
ence excites devotion in all who are present at it; but, 
on the other hand, a Mass celebrated with irreverence 
destroys devotion and even faith in those that are pres 
ent. A religious of high reputation told me that a cer 
tain heretic had resolved to renounce his errors, but 
having been afterwards present at a Mass said without 
reverence, he went to the bishop and said that he no 
longer intended to abjure his heresy, because he felt 
convinced that priests who celebrated Mass in such a 
manner did not sincerely believe in the truth of the 
Catholic Church; and added: " If I were Pope, and knew 
that a priest said Mass with irreverence, I would com 
mand him to be burned alive." After these words he 
withdrew, resolved to continue in his heresy. 

But some priests say that seculars complain when the 
Mass is long. Then I ask: Shall the want of devotion in 
seculars be the rule for the respect due to the Mass? 
Besides, if all priests said Mass with becoming reverence 
and gravity, seculars would feel the veneration due to 
so great a sacrifice, and would not complain of being 
obliged to spend half an hour in attending Mass. 
But because Masses are frequently so short, and so little 
calculated to excite devotion, seculars, after the example 
of priests, attend Mass with indevotion and with little 
faith; and when they find that it lasts longer than half 
an hour, they, on account of the bad habit that they 
have contracted, grow weary and begin to complain; 
and though they spend without tediousness several 
1 " Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum !" 

INSTR. i.) The Celebration of Mass. 223 

hours at play, or in the street, to pass the time, they feel 
it tedious and fatiguing to spend half an hour in hear 
ing Mass. Of this evil, priests are the cause. To you^ O 
priests, that despise My name, and have said: Wherein have 
we depised Thy name ? . . . In that you say: The table of the 
Lord is contemptible. 1 . The want of reverence with which 
many priests celebrate Mass is the cause that it is 
treated with contempt by others. 

Poor priests! Having heard that a priest died after 
celebrating his first Mass, the Venerable Father John 
d Avila said: " Oh what a terrible account shall he have 
to render to God for his first Mass!" But what should 
Father d Avila say of priests who have for thirty or 
forty years said Mass with haste and irreverence, so as 
to scandalize all that were present at it ? And how, I 
ask again, can such priests propitiate the Lord and 
obtain his graces, when by celebrating in such a man 
ner they insult rather than honor him ? " Since every 
sin," says Pope Julius, " is wiped out by the holy sacri 
fice, what would be offered to the Lord in atonement 
of sin if in offering the sacrifice sin is committed ?" 2 
Miserable priests! and miserable the bishop who per 
mits such priests to celebrate. For, as the Council of 
Trent prescribes, bishops are bound to prevent all irrev 
erences in the celebration of Mass: "The holy synod 
decrees that the ordinary bishops of places shall take 
diligent care and be bound to prohibit irreverence, 
which can hardly be separated from impiety." : Mark 

1 " Ad vos, o Sacerdotes, qui despicitis nomen meum, et dixistis: In 
quo despeximus nomen tuum ? . . . In eo quod dicitis: Mensa Domini 
despecta est." Mai. i. 6. 

2 " Cum omne crimen sacrifices deleatur, quid pro delictorum ex- 
piatione Domino dabitur, quando in ipsa sacrificii oblatione erratur?"- 
Cap. Cum omne, de Consecr. dist. 2. 

3 " Decernit sancta synodus, ut Ordinarii locorum eaomnia prohibere 
sedulo curent ac teneantur, quse irreverentia (quae ab impietate vix 
sejuncta esse potest) induxit." Sess. 22, Deer, de obs. in M. 

224 Material for Instructions. [PARTII. 

the words, shall take diligent care and be bound ; they are 
bound to suspend the priest who celebrates without due 
reverence. And this they are obliged to do even with 
regard to regulars; for in this every bishop is constituted 
a delegate of the Apostolic See, and is therefore bound 
to seek for information regarding 1,he manner in which 
Mass is celebrated in his diocese. 

And let us, dearly beloved priests, endeavor to amend, 
if we have hitherto offered this great sacrifice with a 
want of reverence and devotion. Let us, at least from 
this day forward, repair the evil we have done. Let us, 
in preparing for Mass, reflect on the nature of the action 
that we are going to perform: in celebrating Mass we 
perform an action the most sublime and holy that man 
can perform. Ah, what blessings does a Mass, said with 
devotion, bring on him who offers it, and on those that 
hear it ! With regard to the priest who offers it, the 
Disciple writes: " Prayer is more quickly heard when 
recited in the presence of a priest saying Mass." * Now, 
if God hears more speedily the prayers which a secular 
offers in the presence of a priest celebrating Mass, how 
much more readily will he hear the prayers of the priest 
himself if he celebrates with devotion ! He who offers 
the holy Mass every day with devotion shall always re 
ceive new lights and new strength from God. Jesus 

1 "Oratio citius exauditur in ecclesia in praesentia Sacerdotis cele- 

* Such is the citation given by our author, but here is what we read 
in the sermon mentioned as of John Herold, called The Disciple, speak 
ing of the fruits of Mass granted to him that hears it: " Oratio tua citius 
exauditur in ecclesia in praesentia Dei, et etiam oratio Sacerdotis cele- 
brantis; quia quilibet Sacerdos in qualibet Missa tenetur orare pro cir- 
cumstantibus." De Sanctis, s. 48. (Prayer, as well as the prayer of 
the priest celebrating, is more quickly heard in the church in the presence 
of God ; because every priest is obliged at every Mass to pray for those 
that are present.) ED. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 225 

Christ will always infuse increased knowledge and con 
solation; he will encourage him, and grant him the 
graces that he desires. A priest may feel assured, par 
ticularly after the consecration, that he shall receive 
from Jesus Christ all the graces he asks. The Venerable 
Father D. Anthony de Colellis, of the Congregation of 
the Pious Workers, used to say: "When I celebrate and 
hold Jesus Christ in my hands I obtain whatsoever I 
wish for." With regard to him who celebrates, and to 
those that hear Mass, it is related in the life of St. Peter 
of Alcantara that the Mass that he so devoutly cele 
brated produced more fruit than all the sermons 
preached in the province in which he lived. The Coun 
cil of Rhodes commanded priests to show their faith 
and devotion towards Jesus Christ by pronouncing the 
words with piety, and performing the ceremonies with 
reverence and devotion towards Jesus Christ, who is 
present in the Mass. 1 The external deportment, says 
St. Bonaventure, is what shows the interior dispositions 
of the celebrant. 2 And here let us call to mind, in pass 
ing, the command of Innocent III.: "We also command 
that the oratories, vases, corporals, and vestments should 
be kept clean; for it seems to be absurd to neglect in so 
holy actions what would be unbecoming in profane 
actions." 1 O God! the Pontiff has too much reason 
to speak in this manner; for some priests have no re 
pugnance to celebrate with corporals, purificators, and 
chalices which they could not bear to use at table. 

1 " Actio et pronuntiatio ostendat fidem et intentionem quam (Sacer- 
dos) habere debet de Christi et Angelorum in Sacrificio praesentia." 

2 " Intrinsecos motus gestus exterior attestatur. Spec. disc. p. 2, c. I. 

3 " Prsecipimus quoque ut oratoria, vasa, corporalia, et vestimenta, 
munda, et nitida conserventur; nimis enim videtur absurdum in sacris 
sordes negligere, quae dedecerent etiam in profanis." Tit. 44, can. i, 

226 Material for Instructions. CPARTII. 

Thanksgiving after Mass. 

In the third place, after Mass thanksgiving is neces 
sary. The thanksgiving should terminate only with the 
day. St. John Chrysostom says that for every trifling 
favor that they confer upon us men expect that we 
should show our gratitude by making some return. 
How much more grateful should we be to God, who 
expects no recompense for his gifts, but wishes us to 
thank him solely for our welfare ! If, continues the 
saint, we are not able to thank the Lord as much as he 
deserves, let us at least thank him as much as we can. 
But what a misery to see so many priests who, after 
Mass, say a few short prayers in the sacristy, without 
attention or devotion, and then begin to speak on use- 
ess subjects or on worldly business, or perhaps leave 
the church immediately after Mass, and carry Jesus 
Christ into the street ! They should be treated in the 
manner in which Father John d Avila once acted toward 
a priest who left the church immediately after celebrat 
ing Mass. He sent two ecclesiastics with lighted torches 
to accompany him; when asked by the priest why they 
followed him, they answered: "We accompany the 
most Holy Sacrament which you carry in your breast." 
To such priests we may well apply the words of St. 
Bernard to the Archdeacon Fulcone: "How is it pos 
sible that you so quickly grow tired of Christ?" 2 O 
God ! how can you become so soon weary of the com 
pany of Jesus Christ, who is within you? 

So many books of devotion exhort thanksgiving after 

1 "Si homines parvum beneficium pnestiterint, exspectant a nobis 
gratitudinem; quanto magis id nobis faciendum in iis quae a Deoaccepi- 
mus, qui hoc solum ob nostrum utilitatem vult fieri?" /;/ Gen, horn. 26. 

2 " Heu ! quomodo Christum tarn cito fastidis?" Epist. 2. 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 227 

Mass; but how many priests make it? It is easy to 
point to those who practise it. Some make mental 
prayer, recite many vocal prayers, but spend little or 
no time with Jesus Christ after Mass. They might at 
least continue in prayer as long as the consecrated 
species remain within their breast. Father John d Avila 
used to say that we ought to set great value on the time 
after Mass; he ordinarily spent two hours in recollection 
with God after celebrating Mass. 

After Communion the Lord dispenses his graces most 
abundantly. St. Teresa said that then Jesus Christ re 
mains in the soul as on a throne of grace, and says to 
her: "What do you wish that I should do for you ?" 
Besides, it is necessary to know that, according to the 
opinion of Suarez, 2 Gonet, 3 and many other theologians, 
the more the soul disposes herself by good acts, while 
the consecrated species remain, the greater the fruit she 
derives from the holy Communion. For, as the Council 
of Florence 4 teaches, this sacrament has been instituted 
in the form of food, and therefore as the longer earthly 
food remains in the stomach the more nutriment it 
gives to the body so the longer this heavenly food con 
tinues in the body the more it nourishes the soul with 
grace, provided there be corresponding dispositions in 
the communicant. This increase of grace is the more 
confidently to be expected, because during that time 
every good act has greater value and merit; for the soul 
is then united with Jesus Christ, as he himself has said: 
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in 
Me, and I in him* And according to St. John Chrysos- 

1 " Quid vis ut tibi faciam ?" 

2 De Sacram. disp. 63, sect. 7. 

3 Man. Thorn, p. 3, tr. 4, c. 9. 

4 Deer, ad Arm. 

6 "Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me 
manet, et ego in illo." -John, vi. 57. 

228 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

torn, the soul is then made one thing with Jesus Christ. 
Hence, good acts are then more meritorious, because 
they are performed by the soul while she is united with 
Jesus Christ. 

But, on the other hand, St. Bernard tells us that the 
Lord will not lose his graces by giving them to the un 
grateful. 2 Let us then remain, at least for half an hour, 
with Jesus Christ after Mass ; or at least for a quarter. 
But, O God ! a quarter of an hour is too little. We 
should remember that from the day of his ordination 
the priest belongs no longer to himself, but to God, says 
St. Ambrose. 3 And before him God himself said the 
same: They offer the burnt-offering of the Lord, and the 
bread of their God, and therefore they shall be holy, 

The Priest who Abstains from saying Mass. 

Some abstain through humility from the celebration 
of Mass. A word on this subject. To abstain from say 
ing Mass through humility is a good act, but it is not 
the most perfect: acts of humility give God a finite 
honor, but the Mass gives him infinite honor, because 
this honor is offered by a divine person. Attend to the 
words of Venerable Bede. " A priest who without an 
important reason omits to say Mass robs the Blessed 
Trinity of glory, the angels of joy, sinners of pardon, 
the just of divine assistance, the souls in purgatory of 
refreshment, the Church of a benefit, and himself of a 
medicine." St. Cajetan, while in Naples, heard that a 

1 " Ipsa re nos suum efficit corpus." Ad pop. Ant. hom. 60. 

2 " Numquid non perit, quod donatur ingrato?" /;/ Cant. s. 51. 

3 " Verus minister altaris, Deo, non sibi, natus est." In Ps. 118, s. 8. 

4 " Incensum enim Domini et panes Dei sui offerunt, et ideo sancti 
erunt." Lev. xxi. 6. 

5 " Cum Sacerdos, non habens legitimum impedimentum, celebrare 
omittit, quantum in se est, privat Trinitatem gloria, Angelos laetitia, 

INSTR. i.] The Celebration of Mass. 229 

Cardinal in Rome, a particular friend, who was ac 
customed to say Mass every day, had begun to omit it 
on account of his occupations. The saint resolved to 
go, and actually went to Rome, in the burning heat of 
summer, at the risk of his life, in order to persuade his 
friend to resume his former custom. 

The Venerable John d Avila, as we read in his life, 
going one day to say Mass in a hermitage, felt himsen 
so feeble that he began to despair of being able to reach 
the place, which was at a distance, and intended to omit 
Mass; but Jesus Christ appeared to him in the form of 3 
pilgrim, uncovered his breast, showed him his wounds, 
and particularly the wound in his side, and said to hinr. 
"When I was wounded, I felt more fatigued and feeble 
than you are." He then disappeared: Father d Avila 
took courage, went to the oratory, and celebrated Mass 

peccatores venia, justos subsidio, in purgatorio existentes refrigerio 
Ecclesiam beneficio, et seipsum medicina." Dt Pr<zp. ad M. c. 5. 

230 Material for Instructions. [PART 11. 



JESUS CHRIST has instituted two orders in his church: 
one, of the simple faithful; the other, of ecclesiastics: 
but with this difference, that the former are disciples 
and sheep, the latter are masters and shepherds. To 
the laity St. Paul says: Obey your prelates, and be subject to 
them. For they watch as being to render an account of your 
souls. 1 And to ecclesiastics St. Peter has said: Feed the 
flock of God which is among you? And in another place 
we read: Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock 
wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the 
church of God? 

Hence St. Augustine has well said, that " there is 
nothing more difficult, nothing more dangerous, than 
the office of priest." 1 The difficulty and danger of the 
office of a priest arise precisely from his obligation to 
lead a holy life, not only by interior, but also by exterior 
sanctity, that others may learn from him, holiness of 
life. " If the one that is over thee is good, he will be thy 
nurse; if bad, he will be thy tempter," writes the same 
saint. 6 The Scripture says that in Jerusalem the people 
lived in holiness because of the godliness of Onias the high- 

1 "Obedite praepositis vestris, et subjacete eis; ipsi enim pervigilant, 
quasi rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri." Heb, xiii. 17. 

2 " Pascite, qui in vobis est, gregem Dei." i Pet. v. 2. 

3 " Attendite vobis et universo gregi, in quo vos Spiritus Sanctus 
posuit episcopus, regere Ecclesiam Dei." Acts, xx. 28. 

4 Epist. 21, E. B. 

5 " Bonus si fuerit, qui tibi praeest, nutritor tuus est; malus si fuerit, 
tentator tuus est,." Serm. 12, E. B. 

INSTR. ii.] Good Example of the Priest. 231 

priest. And according to the Council of Trent, " The 
integrity of those who govern is the safety of the 
governed. " But, on the other hand, how great the 
havoc, how strong the temptations, caused by the bad 
example of a priest ! My people, says the Lord, by the 
mouth of the prophet Jeremias, have been a lost flock; their 
shepherds have caused them to go astray. 3 " God," writes St. 
Gregory, " suffers from no one more than from priests 
whom he has appointed for the salvation of others, and 
whom he sees giving bad example." 1 St. Bernard says 
" that seculars, seeing the sinful life of the priest, think 
no more of amending their conduct, but begin to despise 
the sacraments, and the rewards and punishments of the 
next life." "Very many," writes the holy Doctor, "be 
holding the wicked life of an ecclesiastic, indulge in 
vices, despise the sacraments, feel no horror of hell, nor 
the smallest desire of heavenly things." 1 For, like the 
man of whom St. Augustine writes, they say: "Why do 
you correct me? Do not ecclesiastics do what I do? 
And do you compel me to abstain from it ?" c Our Lord 
said to St. Bridget: " At the sight of the bad example of 
the priest the sinner assumes confidence in sinning, and 
begins to boast of sins which he before regarded as 
shameful." " Priests in the Church," says St. Gregory, 

1 " Propter Oniae pontificis pietatem." 2 Much. iii. i. 

2 Integritas praesidentium salus est subditorum." Scss. 6, de Ref. 
c, i. 

3 Grex perditus factus est populus meus; pastores eorum seduxerunt 
eos." Jcf. 1 6. 

4 " Nullum majus prsejudicium, quam a Sacerdotibus, tolerat Deus, 
quando eos, quos ad aliorum correctionem posuit, dare de se exempla 
pravitatis cernit." In Evang. horn. 17. 

5 " Plurimi, considerantes cleri sceleratam vitam, Sacramenta despici- 
unt, vitia non evitant, non horrent inferos, coelestia minime concupis- 
cunt." T. I. s. 19, a. 2, c. i. 

6 " Quid mihi loqueris ? Ipsi clerici non illud faciunt, et me cogis ut 
faciam ?" Scrm. 137, E. JR. 

1 Viso exemplo pravo Sacerdotum, peccator fiduciam peccandi su.- 

232 Material for Instriictions. [PART n. 

"are the foundations of the Church." When the foun 
dations give way the whole edifice falls. Hence, in the 
ordination of priests, the holy Church prays for them in 
the following words: " May they shine before others by 
showing an example of justice, constancy, mercy, and 
other virtues." 2 Priests ought not only to be holy, but 
they should also show forth sanctity in their lives: for, 
says St. Augustine, as a good conscience is necessary for 
a priest to save his own soul, so he requires a good repu 
tation in order to save his neighbor; otherwise, though 
he might be merciful and attentive to himself, he would 
be cruel towards others, and thus should bring himself 
and them to perdition. 3 God has selected priests from 
among men, not only that they may offer sacrifices, but 
also that by the good odor of their virtues they may 
edify the rest of the Church. He chose him out of all men 
living^ to offer sacrifice to God, incense, and a good savor? 

Priests are the salt of the earth. 5 "Then," says the 
Gloss, " priests should give a savor to others, and render 
them grateful to God, instructing them in the practice 
of virtue, not only by preaching, but still more by the 
example of a holy life." 

Priests are also the light of the world. 7 The priest, 
then, as our divine Master proceeds to say, should shine 
refulgent among the people by the splendor of his 

mit, et incipit de peccato, quod prius putabat erubescibile, gloriari." 
Rev. 1. 4, c. 132. 

1 " Sacerdotes in Ecclesia, bases in templo." /;/ Evang. horn. 17. 

2 Justitiam, constantiam, misericordiam, fortitudinem, caeterasque 
virtutes, in se ostendant; exemplo praeeant." 

3 " Conscientia tibi, fama proximo tuo; qui, fidens conscientiae tuae, 
negligit famam suam, crudelis est." Serin. 355, E. B. 

4 " Ipsum elegit ab omni vivente, offerre sacrificium Deo, incensum, 
et bonum odorem." Ecclns. xlv. 20. 

5 " Vos estis sal terroe." Matt. v. 14. 

6 " Condientes alios doctrina et vitae exemplo." 
* " Vos estis lux mundL" Matt. \. 13. 

INSTR. n.i Good Example of the Priest. 233 

virtues, and thus give glory to that God who has con 
ferred on him an honor so singular and sublime. So, 
said the Redeemer, let your light shine before men, that they 
may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in 
heaven Of this obligation St. John Chrysostom reminds 
priests. "Therefore," says the saint, "has God chosen 
us that we may be luminaries." Pope Nicholas has 
written the same, saying that priests are the stars that 
enlighten the people on every side. 3 "They are," said 
the Pontiff, according to the words of Daniel, they that 
instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity, 
" stars shedding light on their neighbors, far and wide." 4 
But, to be a luminary, it is not enough for the priest to 
enlighten by his words: he must also give light by his 
good example. " For the life of a priest," as St. Charles 
Borromeo used to say, " is precisely the beacon on which 
seculars, navigating in the midst of the ocean and dark 
ness of the world, keep their eyes fixed in order to escape 
destruction." And before him St. John Chrysostom 
said: "The priest ought to lead a life of order, that all 
may look to him as to an excellent model; for God has 
chosen us, that we might be, as it were, luminaries 
and teachers to others. " ! The life of the priest is the 
light that is placed on the candlestick to give light to 
all. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, 
but on a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the 

1 " Sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus, ut videant opera vestra 
bona, et glorificent Patrem vestrum, qui in coelis est." Matt, v. 16. 

2 " Idcirco nos elegit, ut simus quasi luminaria." In 1 Tim. horn. 10. 

3 " Stellae longe lateque proximos illuminantes." Ep. ad Synod. 

4 " Fulgebunt . . . qui ad justitiam erudiunt multos, quasi stellar in 
perpetuas aeternitates. " Dan. xii. 3. 

5 " Sacerdos debet vitam habere compositam, ut omnes in ilium veluti 
in exemplar excellens intueantur; idcirco enim Deus nos elegit, ut simus 
quasi luminaria et magistri caeterorum." In i Tim. horn. 10.. 

234 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

house. 1 Hence the Council of Bordeaux said: "The life 
of clerics is so exposed to the eyes of all, that all will be 
inspired by them to lead either a good or a bad life." 
The priest, then, is the light of the world; but if the 
light be changed into darkness, what must become of 
the world ? 

Priests are also, as St. Jerome calls them, the fathers 
of Christians. 3 "If then," adds St. John Chrysostom, 
"priests are the fathers of all, it is their duty to attend 
to all their spiritual children, edifying them first by a 
holy life, and afterwards by salutary instructions."* If 
he give bad example, his spiritual children will imitate 
him. "What," says Peter de Blois, " will a layman do 
but what he has seen done by his spiritual father ? " 5 

Priests are also the teachers and models of virtue. 
Our Saviour said to his disciples: As the Father hath sent 
Me, I also send you? As the eternal Father, then, sent 
Jesus Christ into the world to be a model for imitation, 
so Jesus Christ has placed priests in the world to be 
patterns of all virtues. This the very words sacerdos 
and presbyter signify. Sacerdos, says Peter de Blois, 
"means one that gives what is holy, for he gives what 
is holy of God, that is the sacrament; he gives what is 
holy for God, that is a good example." Another author 

1 Neque accendunt lucernam, et ponunt earn sub modio, sed super 
candelabrum, ut luceat omnibus qui in domo sunt." 

2 " Clerici vita omnium oculis sic exposita est, ut inde bene vel male 
vivendi exempla duci soleant." Anno 1583, c. 21. 

3 " Patres christianorum." 

4 " Quasi totius orbis pater Sacerdos est; dignum igitur est ut omnium 
curam agat." In i Tim. horn. 6. 

5 "Quid faciet laicus, nisi quod patrem suum spiritualem viderit fa- 
cientem ?" Serm. 57. 

6 " Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." John, xx. 21. 

7 " Sacerdos dicitur quasi sacrum dans: dat enim sacrum de Deo, id 
est, praedicationem; sacrum Deo, orationem; sacrum Dei, carnem et san- 
guinem; sacrum pro Deo, vivendi exemplum." Scrm. 38. 

INSTR. ii.] . Good Example of the Priest, 235 

says that the word presbyter signifies "one who shows to 
the people (by word and example) the way from exile 
to the kingdom of heaven." 1 This, the Apostle has 
taught: In all things show thyself an example, . . . that he 
who is on the contrary part may be afraid, having no evil to say 
of us? St. Peter Damian says that the Lord has separated 
priests from the laity that they may observe a rule of 
life different from that which the people follow. 3 And 
from this rule seculars learn to lead a life of virtue. 
Hence St. Peter Chrysologus calls the priest "the form 
of virtues." 4 And, addressing a priest, St. John Chry- 
sostom has said: "Let the splendor of your life be the 
common school and model of virtues." This, as St. 
Bernard writes, the sacerdotal ministry itself demands. 6 
In order to see the people sanctified, David prayed to 
the Lord in the following words: Let Thy priests be clothed 
with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice? To be clothed with 
justice, the priest must give an example of every virtue, 
of zeal, of humility, of charity, of modesty, etc. In a word, 
St. Paul says, that we priests should, by holiness of life, 
show ourselves to be true ministers of the God of holi 
ness. But in all things let its exhibit ourselves as the minis 
ters of God, . . . in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, 
etc. 8 And before him Jesus Christ taught the same: If 

1 "Presbyter dicitur prsebens iter, scilicet populo, de exsilio hujus 
mundi ad patriam ccelestis regni." Gemma an. 1. I, c. 181. 

a " In omnibus teipsum praebe exemplum, . . . ut is qui ex adverse 
est, vereatur, nihil habens malum dicere de nobis." Tit. ii. 8. 

z " Ut quid enim a populo (Sacerdotes) segregantur, nisi ut divisam a 
populo vivendi regulam teneant?" Opiisc, 18, d. 2, c. 2. 

4 " Forma virtutem." Serm. 26. 

5 " Sit communis omnibus schola exemplarque virtutum vitse tuee 
splendor." In Tit. hom. 4. 

6 "Cathedram sanctitatis exigit ministerium hoc." 

7 "Sacerdotes tui induantur justitiam, et sancti tui exsultent." Ps, 
cxxxi. g. 

8 " In omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, ... in 
castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate . ., ." 2 Cor. vi. 4. 

236 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

any man minister to Me, let him follow Me. 1 Hence priests 
should copy in their life the example of Jesus Christ, so 
that, as St. Ambrose says, they may give such edification 
that every one that beholds them may bear testimony to 
their sanctity, and venerate that God who has such 
ministers. 2 Hence Minutius Felix writes, that we priests 
should make ourselves known as priests, not by splendor 
of dress nor by ornaments of the head, but by modesty 
and innocence of life. 3 Priests are placed in the world 
to wash away the stains of others. Hence, says St. 
Gregory, they must be holy, and appear holy. 4 

The priest is the leader of the people 5 says St. Peter 
Damian. But, according to St Denis, no one should 
dare to become a guide to others in what relates to 
God, unless he himself be made in all things like to 
God. 6 And Philip the Abbot said: " The life of eccle 
siastics is the form of the laity; the former should go 
before as leaders, and the latter follow as flocks." 7 St. 
Augustine calls priests, the rulers of the earth. 8 " He, 
then, who is placed over others for their correction 
must be irreprehensible," says Pope Hormisdas. 9 And 

" Si quis mihi ministrat, me sequatur." John, xii. 26. 

2 " Docet actuum nostrorum testem esse publicam existimationem, ut, 
qui videt ministrum congruis ornatum virtutibus Dominum veneretur, 
qui tales servulos habeat." DC Offic. 1. i, c. 50. 

3 " Nos, non notaculo corporis, sed innocentiae ac modestiae signo 
facile dignoscimus." Octav. c. 9. 

4 "Necesse est ut esse munda studeat manus, quae diluere aliorum 
sordes curat." Past. p. 2, c. 2. 

5 "Sacerdos, dux exercitus Domini." Opusc. 25, c. 2. 

6 " In divino omni non audendum aliis ducem fieri, nisi secundum 
omnem habitum suum factus sit deiformissimus et Deo simillimus."- 
De Eccl. Hicr. c. 3. S. Thomas, Suppl. q. 36, a. i. 

1 " Vita clericorum forma est laicorum, ut illi tamquam duces pro- 
grediantur, isti vero tamquam gregessequantur." De Dignit. cler, c. 2. 

8 " Rectores terrae." 

9 " Irreprehensibiles esse convenit, quos praeesse necesse est cor- 
rigendis." Ep. ad Episc. Hispan. 

INSTR. ii.] Good Example of the Priest. 237 

according to the Council of Pisa, " as ecclesiastics enjoy 
an exalted dignity, so they ought to shine with the light 
of virtues, and profess a kind of life which may excite 
others to sanctity." ] For, as St. Leo has written, " The 
integrity of those that preside is the salvation of the 
subjects." 2 

St. Gregory of Nyssa calls the priest a teacher of 
sanctity. 3 But if the master exhibit pride, how can he 
teach humility? If he be vindictive, how can he incul 
cate meekness? " He,"*says .St. Isidore, " who is ap 
pointed to instruct the people must be holy in all 
things." 4 And if our Lord has said to all: Be you there 
fore, perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect? how 
much more, says Salvian, will he demand perfection 
from priests, who are to teach all the people? 6 How 
can he inflame others with the love of God unless he 
shows by his works that his own heart burns with that 
holy fire ? " He," says Gregory, " who does not burn, 
does not inflame ?" 7 and St. Bernard writes, that to him 
who loves not, the language of love is a strange and 
barbarous tongue. 8 Hence St. Gregory says that the 
priest who does not give good example will bring con- 

1 " Ecclesiastic}, quemadmodum eminent gradu, sic lurnine virtutum 
praelucere debent, et profited genus vivendi, quod alios excitet ad sanc- 
titatem. " 

2 "Integritas praesidentium salus est subditorum." Ep. ad Episc. 
A Jr. c. i. 

3 " Doctor pietatis." In Baptism. Chr. 

4 " Qui in erudiendis atque instituendis ad virtutem populis praeerit, 
necesse est ut in omnibus sanctus sit." DC Off. Eccl. 1. 2, c. 5. 

5 " Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester ccelestis perfectus 
est." Matt. v. 48. 

6 "Si viris in plebe positis tam perfectam Deus vivendi regulam de- 
dit, quanto esse illos perfectiores jubet, a quibus omnes docendi sunt 
ut possint esse perfecti!" Ad Eccl. Cat hoi. 1. 2. 

1 " Lucerna quse non ardet, non accendit." In Ezech. horn. n. 
8 " Lingua amoris, ei qui non amat, barbara est." In Cant. s. 79. 

238 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

tempt on his preaching, 1 and on all his spiritual func 
tions, says St. Thomas. 2 The Council of Trent ordains 
that they only are to be admitted to the priesthood who 
are "conspicuous for piety and chasteness of morals, as 
that a shining example of good works and a lesson how 
to live maybe expected from them." : But observe, 
that good example should be first expected, and after 
wards salutary instructions; the Council calls good ex 
ample a perpetual kind of preaching. 4 Priests, then, 
should preach, first by example, and afterwards by 
words, " Their life," says St. Augustine, " must be a 
sermon of salvation to others." 5 And St. John Chry- 
sostom writes: "Good example gives forth a louder 
sound than trumpets, . . . for people pay more atten 
tion to our deeds than to our words." 6 Hence St. 
Jerome said to Nepotianus: " Let not works confound 
your preaching, lest when you speak in the church every 
one should tacitly answer, Why, then, do you yourself 
not practise what you preach ?" 7 St. Bernard has writ 
ten: "You will give power to ytmr voice when people 
see that you have previously taken the advice yourself 
before you have given it to others; for action is more 

1 " Cujus vita despicitur, restat ut ejus prsedicatio contemnatur." In 
Evang. horn. 12. 

2 " Et eadem ratione, omnia spiritualia exhibita." Suppl. q. 36, a. 


3 Ita pietate ac castis moribus conspicui, ut pneclarum bonorum 
operum exemplum et vitae monita ab eis possint expectari." Sess. 23, 
de Ref. c. 14. 

4 " Est perpetuum praedicandi genus." 

5 " Quorum vita aliorum debet esse salutis praedicatio." Serm. 291, 
E. B. app. 

6 " Bona exempla voces edunt omni tuba clariores." In Matt. horn. 


1 " Non confundant opera tua sermonem tuum, ne, cum in ecclesia 
loqueris, tacitus quilibet respondeat: Cur ergo haec, quaedicis, ipse non 
facis ?" Ep. ad Nepotian. 

INSTR. ii.] Good Example of the Priest. 239 

powerful than speaking." To persuade others, the 
preacher must show that he himself is convinced of the 
truth of his doctrine; but how can he evince such a con 
viction when his conduct is in opposition to his preach 
ing ? " He," says the author of the Imperfect Work, 
" who neglects to practise what he teaches, teaches not 
others, but condemns himself." 2 The sermon, says St. 
Gregory, which is commended by the life of the preacher 
persuades and moves. 3 Men believe the eyes sooner 
than the ears, that is, they are convinced more easily by 
the examples that they see than by the words that they 
hear. " Since," says an ancient Council, " men believe 
the eyes rather than the ears, it is necessary for a priest 
to give good example, as well in dress as in all his 
actions." " 

Priests are, as the Council of Trent says, the mirrors 
of the world, in which all look at themselves, and from 
which they take examples for the regulation of their life: 
" Others fix their eyes upon them as upon a mirror, and 
derive from them what they are to imitate." 5 And 
long before the holy Council, St. Gregory said the same: 
" The priest should shine before others by good example, 
for the people see in him, as in a mirror, what they must 
do, what they must avoid." G And the Apostle writes: We 

1 " Dabis voci tuse vocem virtutis, si, quod suades, priiis tibi illud 
cognosceris persuasisse. Validior operis quam oris vox." In Cant. s. 

2 " Qui non facit quod docet, non alium docet, sed semetipsum con- 
demnat." Horn. 10. 

a " Ilia vox libentius auditorum corda penetrat, quam dicentis vita 
commendat." Past. p. 2, c. 3. 

" Quoniam magis oculis quam auribus credunt homines, necesse est 
ut Sacerdos bonum praebeat exemplum, tarn in vestitu quam in reliquis 

5 " In eos tamquam in speculum reliqui oculos conjiciunt, ex iisque 
sumunt quod imitentur." Sess. 22, de Ref. c. I. 

6 " Decet Sacerdotem moribus clarescere, quatenus in eo, tamquam 
in vitae suae speculo, plebs, et eligere quod sequatur, et videre possit 
quod corrigat." Epist. 1 7, ind. i, ep. 32. 

240 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. 1 
Everything belonging to the priest demands sanctity. 
" The clerical dress," says St. Jerome, " the state of life, 
require of him sanctity of life." 1 According to St. Eu- 
cherius, priests bear the weight of the whole world, that 
is, they are bound by their obligations to save all souls. 
But how are they to save them ? By the power of their 
sanctity and holy example. 3 Hence the Council of Valen- 
tia said: " By the gravity of his dress, by his looks and 
words, the priest should show that he is a model of dis 
cipline and modesty." The priest should then, in the 
first place, exhibit gravity in his dress: but can priests 
give an example of modesty, if, instead of wearing the 
clerical costume, they display vanity and extravagance 
in their apparel? Secondly, the priest should exhibit 
gravity in his countenance: in order to set an example 
of modesty, he must keep his eyes cast down, not only 
when he is on the altar and in the church, but also in 
all places in which there are women. Thirdly, to ex 
hibit gravity in his words, he must carefully abstain 
from uttering certain worldly maxims, and certain jests 
that are contrary to modesty. The Fourth Council of 
Carthage ordained that the ecclesiastic who indulges in 
immodest jests should be suspended from his office. 5 
But you may ask, What harm is there in such jests? 
"Words," says St. Bernard, that are jests among secu 
lars are in the mouth of a priest blasphemies which 

1 "Spectaculum facti sumus mundo, et Angelis et hominibus." i 
Cor. iv. 9. 
" 2 " Clamat vestisclericalis, clamat status professi animi sanctitatem." 

3 " Hi onus totius orbis portant humeris sanctitatis. " Horn, de 
Dedic. eccl. 

4 " Sacerdos de religione sua, in habitus, vultus, acsermonis gravitate, 
talem se exhibere studeat, ut se formam discipline ac modestiae infun- 
dat." Anno 855, can. 15. 

5 " Clericus verbis turpibus jocularis ab officio removendus." Cap. 

INSTR. ii.] Good Example of the Priest. 241 

excite horror. 1 The saint adds: "You have dedicated 
your mouth to the Gospel; but to open it for such 
things is not allowed: to accustomed one s self to doing 
so would be a sacrilege." ; St. Jerome writes: "All that 
does not edify the hearers is dangerous to those that 
say it." 3 Some things that are trifling in seculars are 
criminal in a priest; for every bad example by which he 
leads others into sin is in him a grievous transgression. 
" What is for the people only a venial sin," says Peter 
de Blois, " is criminal in the priest, because every fault 
of the shepherd becomes mortal by the scandal that 
accompanies it." * 

St. Gregory Nazianzen writes: "Spots on a garment 
are more visible, the more beautiful the garment." 5 In a 
splendid garment stains are most conspicuous, and pro 
duce great deformity. 

It is also necessary for the priest to abstain from every 
species of detraction. St. Jerome says that some re 
nounce other vices, but they appear to think it impos 
sible to give up the sin of detraction. 6 It is also neces 
sary to avoid familiar intercourse with seculars. The 
conversations of seculars breathe an infectious air, 
which, as St. Basil says, gradually destroys the health 
of the soul. 7 Finally, the priest must abstain from cer 
tain secular amusements, at which the presence of an 

1 " Inter saeculares, nugse sunt; in ore Sacerdotis, blasphemise." 

2 " Consecrasti os tuum Evangelic; talibus aperire, illicitum; as- 
suescere, sacrilegum." De Cons. 1. 2, c. 13. 

3 " Omne quod non aedificat, in periculum vertitur loquentium." 

4 " Quod veniale est plebi, criminale est Sacerdoti. Quod erroneum 
est ovi, peremptorium est pastori." Ad Past, in syn. s. 3. 

5 " Splendidae vestis manifestiores sunt maculae." Orat. 31. 

6 " Qui ab aliis vitiis recesserunt, in istud tamen, quasi in extremum 
diaboli laqueum, incidunt." Ep. ad Celant. 

1 " Sicut in pestilentibus locis sensim attractus aer morbum injicit, 
sic in prava conversatione mala hauriuntur, etiamsi statim incommo 
dum non sentiatur. " Horn. Quod D, non sit auct. maL 

242 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

ecclesiastic does not give edification, such as profane 
comedies, balls and parties where women are present. 
But, on the other hand, the priest ought to be seen at 
prayer in the church, making thanksgiving after Mass, 
and visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and the images 
of the divine mother. Some perform these devotions in 
private, lest they might be seen by others; but it is bet 
ter for priests to perform them in public, not to seek 
praise, but to give good example, and thereby induce 
others to praise God. That they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 1 

1 " Videant opera vestra bona, et glorificent Patrem vestrum, qui in 
coelis est." Matt. v. 16. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 243 



The Merit of this Virtue, and its Necessity for the Priest. 

No price is worthy of a continent soul. 1 In comparison 
with a chaste soul, all the riches, all the titles and 
dignities of the earth are contemptible. Chastity is 
called by St. Ephrem the life of the spirit; * by St. Peter 
Damian, the queen of virtues; 3 and by St. Cyprian, the 
acquisition of triumphs. 4 He who conquers the vice 
opposed to chastity, easily subdues all other vices; and, 
on the other hand, the man who submits to the tyranny 
of impurity, easily falls into many other vices, into 
hatred, injustice, sacrilege, etc. 

Chastity, says St. Ephrem, changes a man into an 
angel. 5 St. Bernard says, " Chastity makes an angel of 
man." And according to St. Ambrose, " he who has 
preserved chastity is an angel: he who has lost it is a 
devil." 7 The chaste, who live at a distance from all 
carnal pleasures, are justly assimilated to the angels: 
They shall be as the angels of God in heaven* The angels 
are pure by nature, but the chaste are pure by virtue. 

1 " Omnis autem ponderatio non est digna continentis animae." 
Ecchis. xxvi. 20. 

2 " Vita spiritus." 

3 " Regina virtutum." 

4 " Acquisitio triumphorum." 

5 "O castitas, quae homines Angelis similes reddis!" De Castit. 

6 " Castitas angelum de homine facit." De Mor. ct Off. Ep. c. 3. 

7 " Castitas angelos facit: qui earn servavit, angehisest; quiperdidit, 
diabolus." De Virg. 1. i. 

8 " Et erunt sicut Angeli Dei." Matt. xxii. 30. 

244 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

" Through the merit of this virtue," says Cassian, 
" men are like unto angels." And St. Bernard asserts 
that a chaste man differs from an angel only in felic 
ity, not in virtue; and although the chastity of the 
angel is more blissful, that of man is stronger. 2 St. 
Basil adds, that chastity renders man like to God, who 
is a pure spirit. 3 

Chastity is not more excellent than it is necessary for 
the attainment of salvation. But for priests it is specially 
necessary. For the priests of the Old Law the Lord 
ordered so many white vestments and ornaments, and 
so many external purifications, as symbols of bodily 
purity, merely because they were to touch the sacred 
vessels, and because they were a figure of the priests of 
the New Law, who were to handle and to immolate the 
most sacred flesh of the Incarnate Word. Hence St. 
Ambrose has written: "If of the figure such chastity 
was asked, how much more will it be asked of the real 
ity ?" 4 On the other hand, God ordained that the priests 
who were habitually infected with eruptions on the 
skin, the symbols of impurity, should be cast off from 
the altar: Neither shall he approach to minister to Him, . . . 
if he have a pearl in his eye, or a continual scab? " But 

1 " Hujus virtutis merito, homines Angelis aequantur." De Cccnob. 
Inst. 1. 6, c. 6. 

2 " Differunt quidem inter se Angeluset homo pudicus, sed felicitate, 
non virtute; sed, etsi illius castitas felicior, hujus tamen fortior esse 
cognoscitur." De Mor. et Off. Ep. c. 3.* 

3 " Pudicitia hominem Deosimillimum facit." De Vera Virginit. 

4 " Si in figura tanta observantia, quanta in veritate ?" De Offic. 1. 
i, c. 50. 

5 "Nee accedet ad ministerium ejus, ... si albuginem habens in 
oculo, si jugem scabiem." Lev. xxi. 18. 

* St. John Chrysostom admirably develops this comparison between 
chaste souls and angels, as may be seen in the breviary, June 21, the 3d 
nocturn. ED. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 245 

this evil," says St. Gregory, " he has that is controlled 
by the concupiscence of the flesh." : 

Even the pagans, as Plutarch writes, required purity 
in the priests of their false gods; because they thought 
that whatsoever related to the divine honor should be 
clean. 2 And of the Athenian priests Plato says, that for 
the more effectual preservation of chastity they lived 
apart from the rest of the people. 3 Hence St. Augus 
tine exclaims: "O great misery among Christians! 
the pagans have become the teachers of the faithful. " 
Speaking of priests of the true God, Clement of Alex 
andria says that they only that lead a life of chastity 
are, or should be, called true priests. 5 " Let the priest 
be humble and pious," said St. Thomas of Villanova; 
" if he is not chaste, he is nothing." Chastity is neces 
sary for all, but principally for priests. " To all," says St. 
Augustine, "chastity is most necessary, but especially to 
the ministers of the altar." 7 Priests have to treat on the 
altar with the immaculate Lamb of God, who is called the 
Lily of the valleys? and feeds only among the lilies? Hence 
Jesus Christ would have no other mother than a virgin 
no other guardian or precursor than a virgin. And 
St. Jerome says that Jesus loved John above the other 

" Jugem habet scabiem, cui carnis petulantia dominatur." Past. p. 
i, c. ii. 

2 " Diis omnia munda." 

3 " Ne contagione aliqua eorum castitas labefactetur." 

" O grand is christianorum miseria! ecce pagani doctores fidjlium 
facti sunt." Ad Fr. in er. s. 37. 

5 "Soli qui puram agunt vitam, sunt Dei Sacerdotes. " Strom. 1. 4. 

6 Sit humilis Sacerdos, sit devotus; si non est castus, nihil est. 
De D. Ang. cone. 3. 

" Omnibus castitas pernecessaria est, sed maxime ministris Christi 
altaris." Serm. 291, E. B. app. 

8 " Lilium convallium." 

9 " Qui pascitur inter lilia." Cant. ii. 1-16. 

246 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

disciples on account of the prerogative of chastity. 1 
And Jesus intrusted his mother to John on account of 
his purity, as he consigns to the priest his Church and 
himself. Hence Origen says : "Above all should the 
priest who assists at the altar of God be girt about with 
chastity." 2 And according to St. John Chrysostom, a 
priest should have purity which would entitle him to 
stand among the angels. 3 Should none, then, but vir 
gins be promoted to the priesthood ? St. Bernard 
answers: "Long continuance in chastity is regarded as 
virginity." 4 

Hence the holy Church guards nothing with so much 
jealousy as the purity of her priests. How many coun 
cils and canons enforce it? " Let no one," says Inno 
cent III., " be admitted to holy orders unless he be a 
virgin, or a man of approved chastity;" 5 and he ordained 
that "they who are in holy Orders, if they lead not a 
chaste life, are to be excluded from every dignity: ab 
omni gradum dignitate? St. Gregory says: " No one 
should approach the ministry of the altar unless his 
chastity has been proved." 7 St. Paul assigns the reason 
why the ministers of the altar are obliged to lead a life 
of celibacy: He that is without a wife is solicitous for the 
things that belong to the Lord, hoiv he may please God; but 

1 "Prse caeteris discipulis diligebat Jesus Joannem, propter praero 
gativam castitatis." 

2 " Ante omnia, Sacerdos, qui divinis assistit altaribus, castitate debet 
accingi." In Lev. horn. 4. 

3 " Necesse est Sacerdotem sic esse purum, ut, si in ipsis coelis esset 
collocatus, inter ccelestes illas Virtutes medius staret." DC Saccrd. 1. 3. 

4 " Longa castitas pro virginitate reputatur." De Alodo b. viv. c. 22. 

5 " Nemo ad sacrum Ordinem permittatur accedere, nisi aut virgoaut 
probatze castitatis exsistat. " 

6 " Eos qui in sacris Ordinibus sunt positi. si caste non vixerint, ex- 
cludendos ab omni graduum dignitate." Cap. A multis, de tet. et quol. 

7 " Nullus debet ad ministerium altaris accedere, nisi cujus castitas 
ante susceptum ministerium fuerit approbata." Epist. \. i, ep. 42. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 247 

he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the 
world, how he may please his wife. 1 He who is free from 
the conjugal bonds belongs entirely to God; for he has 
to think of nothing but of pleasing God. But he who 
is bound to the married state has to think of his wife, 
of his children, and of the world. Thus his heart is 
divided, and cannot belong wholly to God. St. Atha- 
nasius, then, had reason to call chastity the house of the 
Holy Ghost, the life of angels, and the crown of saints. 2 
And St. Jerome has justly called it the honor of the 
Church and the glory of priests. 3 Yes: for, as St. 
Ignatius, Martyr, says, the priest as the house of God, 
the temple of Jesus Christ, and the organ of the Holy 
Ghost, by which souls are sanctified, ought to practise 
chastity. 4 


Means of Preserving Chastity. 

Great, then, is the excellence of chastity; but terrible 
indeed is the war that the flesh wages against men in 
order to rob them of that precious virtue. The flesh is 
the most powerful weapon that the devil employs in 
order to make us his slaves. His strength is in his loins? 
Hence but few gain the victory in this warfare. " Among 
all combats," says St. Augustine, "the combat for chas 
tity is the most violent, because it is a daily combat, and 

"Qui sine uxore est, sollicitus est quae Domini sunt, quomodo 
placeat Deo; qui autem cum uxore est, sollicitus est quae sunt mundi, 
quomodo placeat uxori, et divisus est." i Cor. vii. 32. 

2 " O pudicitia, domicilium Spiritus Sancti, Angelorum vita, Sanc 
torum corona!" DC Virginit. 

3 " Ornamentum Ecclesiae Dei, corona illustrior Sacerdotum." 

4 "Teipsum castum custodi, ut domum Dei, templum Christi, 
organum Spiritus Sancti." Ep. ad Heron, 

5 " Fortitudo ejus in lumbis ejus." Job, xl. n. 

248 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

because victory is very rare." How many miserable 
men, exclaims St. Laurence Justinian with tears, after 
many years spent in the solitude of a desert, in medita 
tions, fasting, and penitential austerities, have, for the 
sake of sensual indulgence, left the desert and have lost 
chastity and God? 2 Priests, then, who are bound to 
perpetual chastity, must take great care to preserve it. 
You shall never practise chastity, said St. Charles Bor- 
romeo to an ecclesiastic, unless you are careful to watch 
over yourself with great diligence; for chastity is easily 
lost by the negligent. 3 

This care and attention consist in taking the means 
of preserving chastity. These means are, to avoid cer 
tain incentives to impurity, and to adopt certain reme 
dies against temptations. 


The first means is to avoid the occasions of sins 
against purity. "We must," says St. Jerome, " be far 
from those whose presence may entice us to evil." St. 
Philip Neri used to say that in this warfare cowards, 
that is, they that fly from the occasions, are victorious. 
" Concupiscence," says Peter de Blois, "is overcome by 
nothing more easily than by flight." 5 

The grace of God is a great treasure, but this treasure 
we carry in vessels that are frail and easily broken. 
We have this treasure in earthen vessels* Man cannot of 

1 " Inter omnia certamina, sola duriora sunt praelia castitatis, ubi 
quotidiana est pugna, et rara victoria." Serm. 293, E. B. app. 

2 " Quanti, post frequentes orationes, diutissimatn eremi habitationem, 
cibi potusque parcitatem, seducti spiritu fornicationis, deserta relin- 
quentes, duplici interitu, perierunt ! " DC spir. an. hit. 1. i. 

3 " Minim est quam facile ab iis deperdatur, qui ad ejus conserva- 
tionem non invigilant." 

4 " Primum hujus vitii remedium est longe fieri ab eis quorum prae- 
sentia alliciat ad malum." 

5 " Nunquam luxuria facilius vincitur, quam fugiendo." Serm. 45. 

6 " Habemus autem thesaurum istum in vasis fictilibus." 2 Cor. iv. 7. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 249 

himself acquire the virtue of chastity: God alone can 
give it. / knew, said Solomon, that I could not otherwise 
be continent except God gave it. 1 We have not strength to 
practise any virtue, but particularly the virtue of chas 
tity; for we have by nature a strong propensity to the 
opposite vice. The divine aid alone can enable a man 
to preserve chastity; but this aid God gives not to those 
that voluntarily expose themselves to the occasion of sin, 
or remain in it. He that loveth danger shall perish in it? 

Hence St. Augustine gives the following advice: " To 
repel the attacks of lust, take flight if you wish to obtain 
the victory." 1 Oh ! how many, said St. Jerome at the 
hour of death to his disciples (as we read in the 
epistle of Eusebius to Pope Damasus), how many have 
been cast into the putrid mire of impurity through a 
presumptuous security that they should not fall. 4 No 
one, then, adds the saint, should consider himself secure 
against this vice: though you were a saint, you are 
always in danger of failing. 

It is not possible, says the Wise Man, for a man to 
walk on red-hot coals and not be burned. Can a man 
walk upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt ^ On this 
subject St. John Chrysostom writes: "Are you perhaps 
of stone or of iron ? no, you are a man subject to the 
common weakness of nature. Do you think that you 
will not be burnt if you take fire into your hand ? How 

T " Scivi quoniam aliter non possem esse continens, nisi Deus det. 
Wisd. viii. 21. 

- " Qui amat periculum, in illo peribit." Ecdus. iii. 27. 

3 " Contra libidinis impetum, apprehende fugam, si vis obtinere 
victoriam." Serm. 293, E. B. app. 

4 " Plurimi sanctissimi ceciderunt hoc vitio propter suam securitatem ; 
nullus in hoc confidat." 

5 " Si sanctus es, nee tamen securus es." Ettseb. Ep. ad Dam. de 
morte Hier. 

6 " Numquid potest homo . . . ambulare super prunas, ut non com- 
burantur plantse ejus?" Prov. vi. 27. 

250 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

else could this be? Put a burning light into the hay, 
and then say that there will be no blaze ! Like hay is 
this nature of ours." 1 Hence it is not possible for a 
man to expose himself voluntarily to the occasions of 
sins against chastity and not fall into a precipice. We 
should fly from sin as from the face of a serpent. Flee 
from sin as from the face of a serpent? We fly not only 
from the bite of a serpent, but also from contact with it 
and proximity to it. We must also avoid the company 
and conversation of persons who may be to us an occa 
sion of yielding to any sin against purity. St. Ambrose 
remarks that the chaste Joseph would not stop to hear 
the first words of Putiphar s wife, but instantly fled 
away, considering that there was great danger in wait 
ing to listen to her. 3 But some one may say: I know 
my duty; but let him attend to the words of St. Francis 
of Assisi: " I know what I ought to do, but I know not 
what I would do were I to remain in the occasion of 

I. Let us examine the principal occasions that the 
priest should carefully avoid in order to preserve chas 
tity. It is necessary, above all things, to abstain from 
looking at dangerous objects. Death is come up through 
our windows? says the Prophet Jeremias . Through the 
windows: that is, through the eyes, as St. Jerome, St. 
Gregory, and others say in their comments on this 
passage. For as to defend a fortification it is not 
enough to lock the gates if the enemy be allowed to 
enter by the windows; so to preserve chastity all other 

1 " Num tu saxeus es, num ferreus ? Homo es, communi naturae 
imbecillitati obnoxius; ignem capis, nee ureris? Lucernam in feno 
pone, ac turn aude negare quod fenum uratur. Quod fenum est, hoc 
natura nostra est." In Ps. 50, horn. i. 

a "Quasi a facie colubri, fuge peccata." Ecdus. xxi. 2. 

3 " Ne ipsa quidem verba diu passus est; contagium enim judicavit, 
si diutius moraretur." De S. fos. c. 5. 

4 " Ascendit mors per fenestras." Jer. ix. 21. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 251 

means shall be unprofitable unless we carefully watch 
over the eyes. Tertullian 1 relates that a certain pagan 
philosopher plucked out his eyes in order to preserve 
chastity. This is not lawful for us. But if we wish to 
avoid sins against purity we must abstain from looking 
at women, and still more from looking at them a second 
time. To look at dangerous objects, says St. Francis 
de Sales, is not so hurtful to us as to repeat the look. 
And St. John Chrysostom adds, that it is necessary to 
turn away the eyes not only from women whose dress 
or manner is immodest, but even from those whose de 
meanor is full of modesty. 2 Hence holy Job made a 
compact with his eyes not to look at any woman, even 
at a chaste virgin; because he knew from looks evil 
thoughts arise: / made a covenant with my eyes that I 
would not so much as think upon a virgin? Ecclesiasticus 
advises us to imitate the example of Job. Gaze not upon 
a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumbling-block to thee? St. 
Augustine says: From looks spring evil thoughts; the 
thoughts produce a certain carnal delectation, though 
indeliberate. To this indeliberate delectation succeeds 
the consent of the will; 5 and, behold, the soul is lost. 
Cardinal Hugo remarks that the Apostle commanded 
women to keep their heads veiled in the church because 
of the angels? that is, because of priests, lest looking at 
their faces they should be tempted to lust. 7 Even while 

1 Apolog. c. 46. 

"Animus feritur et commovetur, non impudicae tantum intuitu, sed 
etiam pudicae." De Sacerd. 1. 6. 

3 " Pepigi foedus cum oculis meis, ut ne cogitarem quidem de vir- 
gine." Job, xxxi. i. 

" Virginem ne conspicias, ne forte scandalizeris in decore illius." 
Ecclus. ix. 5. 

"Visum sequitur cogitatio, cogitationem delectatio, delectationem 

6 " Propter Angelos." 

1 " Propter Angelos, id est, Sacerdotes, ne, in ejus faciem inspici- 
entes, moverentur ad libidinem." In i Cor. xi. 10. 

252 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

he lived in a cave at Bethlehem, in constant prayer and 
penitential austerities, St. Jerome was tormented by the 
remembrance of the ladies whom he had long before 
seen in Rome. Hence he cautioned his friend Nepo- 
tianus to abstain not only from looking at women, but 
from even speaking of their figure. 1 By a single look of 
curiosity at Bethsebee, David miserably fell into the 
sins of adultery, homicide, and scandal. " The devil 
only wishes us to begin," 2 says the same St. Jerome. 
The devil only requires that we begin to open the door; 
he w r ill afterwards open it entirely. A deliberate, fixed 
look at the countenance of a young woman may be an 
infernal spark that will cause the ruin of the soul. 
Speaking of priests, St. Jerome says that they ought to 
avoid not only every unchaste act, but every glance of 
the eye. 3 

II. If to preserve chastity we must abstain from look 
ing at women, it is far more necessary to avoid conver 
sation with them. Tarry not among women* says the 
Holy Ghost. The inspired writer subjoins the reason, 
saying, that as the moth comes from clothes, so the 
wickedness of men has its origin in conversation with 
women. For from garments cometh a moth, and from a 
woman the iniquity of a man? And, says Cornelius a 
Lapide, as the moth comes from a garment in spite of 
the owner, so from intercourse w r ith women evil desires 
spring up, even when we will them not. 6 He adds that 

1 " Officii tui est, non solum oculos castos custodire, sed et linguam; 
numquam de formis mulierum disputes." Ep. ad Nepot. 

2 " Nostris tantum initiis (diabolus) opus habet." 

3 " Pudicitia sacerdotalis non solum ab opere se immundo abstineat, 
sed etiam a jactu oculi sit libera." In Tit. i. 

4 " In medio mulierum noli commorari." Ecclus. xlii. 12. 

5 " De vestimentis enim procedit timea, et a muliere iniquitas viri." 

6 " Sicut tibi nihil tale volenti nascitur in veste et e veste tinea, ita 
nihil tale volenti nascitur ex femina desiderium." 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 253 

as the moth is insensibly generated in and corrodes the 
garment, so by conversation with women concupiscence 
is imperceptibly excited, even in men who are spiritual. 1 
St. Augustine regards as certain the sudden fall of the 
man who will not avoid familiarity with dangerous 
objects. 2 St. Gregory relates 3 of Orsinus, who had sep 
arated from his wife, and become a priest with her con 
sent, that forty years after their separation, when he 
was dying, she put her ear to his mouth to ascertain 
whether he was still alive; but Orsinus exclaimed: 
"Withdraw, O woman," said he; " take away the straw; 
for I have still a small portion of the fire of life which 
may consume us both."^ 

Every one should be filled with terror by the unhappy 
example of Solomon, who after being so dear to God, 
and so familiar with him, after being made, as it were, 
the pen of the Holy Ghost, was in his old age, by con 
versation with pagan women, induced to worship idols. 
And when he was now old, his heart was turned away by 
women to follow strange gods? No wonder; for, as St. 
Cyprian says, it is impossible to stand in the midst of 
flames without being burned. 6 And St. Bernard has 
written, that to be familiar with a woman and to pre 
serve chastity require greater virtue than to raise a 
dead man to life. 7 If, then, says the Holy Ghost, you 

1 "Tinea insensibiliter in veste nascitur, et earn erodit; sic insensi- 
biliter ex conversatione cum muliere oritur libido, etiam inter religi- 

2 Sine ulla dubitatione, qui familiaritatem non vult vitare suspectam, 
cito labitur in ruinara." Serm. 293, E. B. app. 

3 Dial. 1. 4, c. ii. 

4 " Recede mulier, adhuc igniculus vivit, paleam tolle." 

r> " Cumque jam esset senex, depravatum est cor ejus per mulieres, 
ut sequeretur deos alienos." 3 Kings, xi. 4. 

6 " Impossibile est flammis circumdari, et non ardere." De Singular, 

7 " Cum femina semper esse, et non cognoscere feminam, nonne plus 
est quam mortuum suscitare ?" In Cant. s. 65. 

254 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

wish to be secure, Remove thy way far from her. 1 Do not 
even pass near the door of her whom the devil makes an 
occasion of temptation to you: pass at a distance from 
it; and should it be really necessary for you to speak to 
a woman, your words, says St. Augustine, should be few 
and reserved. 2 St. Cyprian gives the same advice. He 
says that our intercourse with women should be passing, 
and as if we were in flight. 3 

But some one may say, The woman with whom I am 
familiar is a person of deformed figure; God forbid she 
should be an occasion of sin to me. But St. Cyprian 
answers that the devil is a painter who, when concupis 
cence is excited, makes a deformed countenance appear 
beautiful. 4 

But she is a relative. St. Jerome answers: "Allow 
not to stay with you even the person that is your rela 
tive." Relationship sometimes serves to take away re 
straint and to multiply sins by adding the guilt of incest 
to impurity and sacrilege. "The sin will be only the 
more criminal," says St. Cyprian, " the more easily one 
can remove the suspicion of misconduct. " St. Charles 
Borromeo 7 passed a decree that his priests should not 
without his permission dwell in the same house with 
women, even with near relatives. 

But she is a spiritual soul and a saint: there is no 
danger. Is there no danger? Yes, says St. Augustine. 

1 " Longe fac ab ea viam tuam, et ne appropinques foribus domus 
ejus." Prov. v. 8. 

2 " Cum feminis, sermo brevis et rigidus." 

:i " Transeunter feminis exhibenda est accessio, quodammodo fugi- 
tiva." De Singular, clcr. 

4 " Diabolus, pingens, speciosus efficit quidquid horridum fuerit." 

5 " Prohibe tecum morari, etiam quae de genere tuo sunt." Ep. ad 

6 " Magis illicito delinquitur ubi sine suspicione securum potest esse 

1 A eta Mcdiol. p. 2, syn. 4, Monit. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 255 

there is danger; and because she is spiritual and a saint 
you ought the more to fear and fly familiarity with her; 
for the more spiritual and holy a woman is, the more 
easily she gains the affections of men. 1 The Venerable 
Father Sertorius Caputo used to say, as we read in his 
life, that the devil endeavors first to infuse a love for the 
virtue of the individual, and thus inspire a security that 
there is no danger; he then excites sentiments of affec 
tion for the person, and afterwards tempts to sin; and 
thus he causes great havoc. Before him St. Thomas 
said the same: "Although carnal affection is dangerous 
to all, it is yet more so for those that associate with 
persons that seem to be spiritual; for, even though the 
beginning seems pure, yet frequent familiarity is very 
dangerous; and the more the familiarity increases, the 
more the first motive is weakened, and thus purity is 
defiled." 2 He adds, that the devil knows well how to 
conceal the danger. In the beginning he sends, not 
poisoned darts, but only those that inflict slight wounds, 
and kindle an affection; but in a short time the persons 
begin to act towards each other not like angels, as in 
the beginning, but like beings clothed with flesh. The 
looks are not immodest, but they are frequent and re 
ciprocal; their words appear to be spiritual, but are too 
affectionate. Each begins frequently to desire the com 
pany of the other. "And thus," concludes the saint, 
"a spiritual devotion is converted into a carnal one." 

" Sermo brevis et rigidus cum mulieribus est habendus; nee tamen, 
quia sanctiores fuerint, ideo minus cavendse; quo enim sanctiores 
fuerint, eo magis alliciunt." De Modo confit. 

2 "Licet carnalis affectio sit omnibus periculosa, etiam tamen per- 
niciosa est magis, quando conversantur cum persona qua spiritualis 
videtur; nam, quamvis eorum principium videatur esse purum, fre- 
quens tamen familiaritas domesticum est periculum; quae quidem 
familiaritas quanto plus crescit, tanto plus infirmatur principale moti- 
vum, et puritas maculatur." 

"Sicque spiritualis devotio convertitur in carnalem." De Pro- 
fectzt Rel. 1. 2, c. 27. 

256 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

St. Bonaventure gives five marks by which we may 
know when a spiritual affection has become carnal. 
i. When there are long and useless conversations (and 
when they are long they are always useless); 2. When 
there are mutual looks and mutual praise; 3. When one 
excuses the faults of the other; 4. When they exhibit 
certain little jealousies; 5. When the absence of one 
causes a certain inquietude in the other. 

Let us tremble: we are flesh. Blessed Jordan severely 
reproved one of his religious for having, without any 
bad motive, once taken a woman by the hand. The re 
ligious said in answer that she was a saint. But, re 
plied the holy man: "The rain is good, and the earth 
also, but mix them together and they become mire." 
Such a man is a saint, and such a woman, too, is a 
saint; but because they expose themselves to the occa 
sion of sin, both are lost. The strong hath stumbled against 
the strong, and both arc fallen together. 1 Listen to the 
melancholy fall of a holy woman who, as we read in 
ecclesiastical history, was accustomed through charity 
to bury the bodies of the holy martyrs. She found one 
of them whom she believed to be dead; but finding he 
was still alive, she brought him to her house and took 
care of him. He recovered; but what happened ? These 
two saints, by conversing together, lost their chastity 
and the grace of God. 

This has happened, not once, nor a few times: how 
many Christians, who were saints before, have, by simi 
lar attachments, which were at first spiritual, in the end 
lost their soul and God ? St. Augustine attests that he 
knew some great prelates of the Church of whom he 
had as high an opinion as of St. Jerome and St. Ambrose, 
and who, by exposing themselves to such occasions, fell 

" Fortis impegit in fortem, et ambo pariter conciderunt." fer. 
xlvi. 12. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 257 

away from sanctity into sin. 1 St. Jerome wrote to Ne- 
potianus: " Do not confide too much in your past chas 
tity; be careful not to sit alone with a woman without 
a witness," 2 that is, do not remain with her. St. Isidore 
of Pelusium says: " If necessity obliges you to converse 
with women, keep your eyes cast on the ground; and 
after you have spoken a few words, go away imme 
diately." 1 Father Peter Consolini of the Oratory used 
to say, that we should practise charity towards women 
who are even saints as towards the souls in purgatory, 
that is, from a distance, and without looking at them. 
This good Father would say, that in temptations against 
chastity priests would do well to reflect on their dig 
nity; and would add that a certain Cardinal, when 
molested by thoughts, began to look at his cap, and to 
think of his cardinalitial dignity, saying: " My cap, I 
recommend myself to you." Thus he resisted the temp 

III. It is also necessary to fly from bad company. St. 
Jerome says that a man becomes like the companions 
with whom he converses. 4 We walk in a dark and slip 
pery way; 5 such is the present life ; Lubricum in tenebris : 
if a wicked companion impels us to the precipice, we 
are lost. St. Bernardine of Sienna relates 6 that he knew 
a person who had preserved her virginity for thirty- 

"Magnos praelatos Ecclesiae sub hac specie coruisse reperi, de 
quorum casu non magis prsesumebam, quam Hieronymi et Ambrosii." 
S. Thomas, De modo con fit. 

8 "Ne in praeterita castitate confidas; solus cum sola, absque teste, 
non sedeas." 

"Si cum ipsis conversari necessitas te obstringat, oculos humi 
dejectos habe; cumque pauca locutus fueris, statim avola." Lib. 2, 
ep. 284. 

"Talis efficitur homo, qualium societate fruitur." Eusebius, De 
Morte Hiet. 

5 l< Lubricum in tenebris." 

6 T. III. Serin, extr. s. 13, n. 6.. 


258 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

eight years, and afterwards, in consequence of having 
heard an immodest word, fell into such habits of impur 
ity, that, says the saint, the devil himself, if clothed 
with flesh, could not have been guilty of such filthy 

IV. To preserve chastity, it is also necessary to avoid 
idleness. Idleness, says the Holy Ghost, hath taught 
much evil. Ezechiel says that it was the cause of all 
the wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom, and of 
their total destruction. Behold ! this was the iniquity of 
Sodom . . . the idleness of her and of her daughters? This 
was, as St. Bernard remarks, the cause of the fall of 
Solomon. The concupiscence of the flesh is repressed 
by labor, says St. Isidore. 3 Hence St. Jerome exhorted 
Rusticus to be always occupied, so that the devil, when 
ever he came to tempt him, should find him employed. 4 
According to St. Bonaventure, the man who is employed 
shall be tempted by a single devil, but the idle shall be 
frequently assailed by many devils. 6 


We have seen, then, that for the preservation of chas 
tity it is necessary to avoid idleness and the occasions 
of impurity. Let us now examine what we must do in 
order to preserve this great virtue. 

First, it is necessary to practise the mortification of 
the senses. If, says St. Jerome, any one wishes to live 
in the midst of earthly delights, and expects at the same 
time to be free from the vices that accompany pleasures, 

1 " Mul tarn enim maiitiam docuit otiositas." Ecclus. xxxiii. 29. 
9 " Haec fuit iniquitas Sodomae . . otium ipsius." Ezeck.xvi 49. 

3 " Cedet libido laboribus, cedet operi." De Cent, in, de Lab, 

4 " Facito aliquidoperis, ut te semper diabolus inveniat occupatum." 
Ep, ad Rustic. 

6 "Occupatus ab uno daemone impugnatur; otiosus ab innumeris 
vasiauir. De Prof. rel. 1. i, c. 39. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 259 

he deceives himself. 1 When the Apostle was molested 
with the stings of the flesh he had recourse to bodily 
mortifications. /, said he, chastise my body and bring it 
into subjection? Unless the flesh be mortified, it will 
submit to the spirit only with difficulty. As the lily 
among the thorns -, so is My love among the daughters? As 
the lily is preserved among thorns, so chastity is 
guarded by mortifications. 

But for him who wishes to practise this sublime vir 
tue, it is, above all, necessary to avoid intemperance as 
well in drinking as in eating. 

Give not, says the wise man, wine to kings? He who 
takes more wine than is necessary, shall certainly be 
molested with many carnal motions, and shall scarcely 
be able to rule the flesh and make it obedient to the law 
of chastity. " The body that is inflamed with wine will 
overflow with lust," says St. Jerome. 5 For as the prophet 
Osee has said, wine deprives man of reason, and reduces 
him to the level of a brute. Wine and drunkenness take 
away the understanding? Of the Baptist it was foretold. 
He shall drink no wine and strong drink, and he shall be 
filed with the Holy Ghost? Some will argue in favor of 
the necessity of wine, because it is a remedy for the 
weakness of the stomach. But, according to the words 
of St. Paul to Timothy, a small quantity of wine is suffi- 

" Si quis existimat posse versari in deliciis, et deliciarum vitiis 
non teneri, seipsum decipit." Adv. Jovin, 1. 2. 

"Castigo corpus meum, et in servitutem redigo." i Cor. ix. 27. 

" Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic arnica mea inter filias." Cant. ii. 2. 

"Noli regibus dare vinum." Prov. xxxi. 4. 

"Venter enim mero sestuans despumat in libidinem." Keg. 
Monach. de Abst. 

6 "Vinum et ebrietas auferunt cor." Os. iv. n. 

7 "Vinum et siceram non bibet, et Spiritu Saricto replebitur." 
Luke, i. 15. 

260 Material for Instructions. IPART n. 

cient for that malady. Use a little wine for thy stomach s 
sake, and thy frequent infirmities? 

It is also necessary to abstain from superfluity of 
food. St. Jerome asserts 2 that satiety of the stomach 
provokes incontinence. And St. Bonaventure says: 
"Impurity is nourished by eating to excess." 1 But^ on 
the other hand, fasting, as the holy Church teaches, 
represses vice and produces virtue: "O God, who by 
corporal fasting dost suppress vice, dost elevate the 
mind, and dost confer virtues and rewards." St. 
Thomas has written that when the devil is conquered 
by those whom he tempts to gluttony, he ceases to 
tempt them to impurity. 5 


It is necessary to practise humility. Cassian says 
that he who is not humble cannot be chaste. 6 It hap 
pens, not unfrequently, that God chastises the proud 
by permitting them to fall into some sin against purity. 
This, as David himself confessed, was the cause of his 
fall. Before I was humbled I offended} It is by humility 
that we obtain chastity, says St. Bernard. 8 And St 
Augustine writes: "Charity is the guardian of virginity, 
humility is the place of the guardian." Divine love is 
the guardian of purity, but humility is the house in 

1 " Modico vino utere, propter stomachum tuum et frequentes tuas 
infirmitates." I Tim. v. 23. 

2 Adv. Jovin. 1. 2. 

3 "Luxuria nutritur a ventris ingluvie." De Prof. rel. 1. 2, c. 52. 

4 " Deus qui, corporal! jejunio, vitia comprimis, mentem elevas, 
virtutem largiris et pnemia." 

5 " Diabolus, victus de gula, non tentat de libidine." 

6 " Castitatem apprehendi non posse, nisi prim; humilitatis in corde 
fundamenta fuerint collocata." De Coenob. inst. 1. 6, c. 18. 

7 " Priusquam humiliarer, ego deliqui." Ps. cxviii. 67. 

8 " Ut castitas detur, humilitas meretur." De Mor. et Off. Ep. c. 5. 

9 "Gustos virginitatis, charitas; locus hujus custodis, humilitas." 
De S. Virginit. c. 51. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 261 

which this guardian dwells. St. John Climacus used to 
say, that he who expects to conquer the flesh by conti 
nence alone is like a man in the midst of the ocean 
who wishes to save his life by swimming with a single 
hand. Therefore it is necessary to unite humility to 
continence. 1 


But above all, to acquire the virtue of chastity prayer 
is necessary: it is necessary to pray, and to pray con 
tinually. It has been already said that chastity can 
neither be acquired nor preserved unless God grant his 
aid to preserve it; but this aid he gives only to those 
who Hence the holy Fathers teach that, accord 
ing to the words of Scripture: We ought always to pray, 
and not to faint? Ask, and it shall be given you? The 
prayer of petition is necessary for adults, necessitate medii, 
that is, as a means without which salvation is impos 
sible. Hence the angelic Doctor has said: "After bap 
tism, continual prayer is necessary to man." 4 And if to 
practise any virtue Christians require the divine assist 
ance, they stand in need of still greater help in order to 
preserve chastity, because they have a strong tendency 
to the opposite vice. It is impossible, says Cassian, for 
man, by his own strength, without aid from God, to 
keep himself chaste; and therefore, in our struggle with 
the flesh, we must ask the Lord, with all the affection 
of our soul, for the gift of chastity. 5 " According to the 

" Qui sola continentia bellum hoc superare nititur, similis est ei 
qui, una manu natans, pelago liberari contendit; sit ergo humilitas 
continentiae conjuncta." Scala spir. gr. 15. 

" Oportet semper orare, et non deficere." -Luke, xviii. i. 
3 " Petite, et dabitur vobis." Matt. vii. 7. 

" Post baptismum, necessaria est homini jugis oratio." P. 3, q. 
39. a - 5- 

" Impossibile est hominem suis pennis ad tam praecelsum coelestem 
praemium subvolare, nisi eum gratia Domini de terrae coena evexerit." 
De Ccenob. inst. \. 6, c. 6. 

262 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

advice of the Wise Man," says Abelly, " we should pray 
to God with our whole heart." Hence St. Cyprian 
teaches that the first means of obtaining chastity is to 
ask it of God. 2 And before him Solomon said: And as 
I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave 
it y and this also was a point of wisdom, to know whose gift it 
was : I went to the Lord, and besought Him, and said with m\> 
whole heart? 

We should then, says St. Cyprian, instantly resist the 
first carnal solicitations with which the devil assails us, 
and not permit the serpent, that is, the temptation, to 
grow strong. 4 St. Jerome gives this same advice: " You 
must not permit bad thoughts to grow in your mind; 
no, kill the enemy when he is small." It is easy to kill 
a lion when he is small, but not when he has grown to 
his full size. 

Let us guard against reasoning with temptations con 
trary to chastity: let us endeavor instantly to banish 
them. And, as the spiritual masters teach, the best 
means of banishing such temptations is not to combat 
them directly face to face, by making contrary acts of 
the will, but to get rid of them indirectly by acts of the 
love of God, or of contrition, or at least by turning the 
mind to other things. 

1 " Idcirco, juxta Sapientis monitum (Wisd. viii 21) adeundus est 
Dominus, et ex totis praecordiis deprecandus." Saceni. Chr. p. 5, 
c. 14. 

2 " Inter haec, imo et ante haec omnia, de divinus castris auxilium 
petendum est." De Disc, et Bono pudic. 

3 " Et ut scivi quoniam aliter non possem esse continens, nisi Deus 
det, et hoc ipsum erat sapientiae, scire cujus esset hoc donum, adii 
Dominum, et deprecatus sum ilium, et dixi ex totis praecordiis meis." 
Wisd. viii. 21. 

4 " Primis diaboli titillationibus obviandum est, nee foveri debet 
coluber donee in draconem formetur." De Jej. et Tent. Chr. 

5 " Nolo sinas cogitationem crescere; dum parvus est hostis, inter- 
fice." Ep. ad Etistocli. 

INSTR. in.] The Chastity of the Priest. 263 

But the means in which we should place the greatest 
confidence is prayer, and recommending ourselves to 
God. It is useful, as soon as we perceive the first 
motion of impurity, to renew our purpose to suffer 
death rather than consent to sin, and immediately after 
to have recourse to the wounds of Jesus Christ for aid. 
Thus the saints, who were flesh, and subject to tempta 
tions, have acted, and thus they have conquered. " If I 
am tormented," says St. Augustine, " by any bad thought, 
I have recourse to the wounds of Jesus; for I find rest 
in the wounds of our Saviour." Thus, also, St. Thomas 
of Aquinas repelled the attacks of the woman by whom 
his chastity was assailed: "Do not permit, O Lord 
Jesus and O most holy Virgin Mary, that I should offend 
God !" exclaimed the saint. 2 

It is also very useful to make the sign of the cross 
on the breast, and to have recourse to our angel 
guardian and our holy patron. But above all, it is 
useful to have recourse to Jesus Christ and the divine 
Mother by instantly invoking their most holy names, 
and by continuing to invoke them until the temptation 
is beaten down. Oh ! how powerful are the most holy 
names of Jesus and Mary against the attacks of impurity ! 

Devotion to the holy Virgin, who is called " the Mother 
of fair love, and the guardian of virginity," 3 is a most 
useful devotion for the preservation of chastity. And 
to recite, at rising in the morning and going to bed at 
night, three "Hail Marys," in honor of the purity of 
Mary, is a devotion that has singular efficacy in obtain 
ing the gift of continence. 

Father Segneri 4 relates that a sinner addicted to the 

"Cum me pulsat aliqua turpis cogitatio, recurro ad vulnera 
Christi. Tula requies in vulneribus Salvatoris." Manual, c. 22, 21. 

2 " Ne sinas, Domine Jesu, et Sanctissima Virgo Maria !" Surius, 
7 Mart. 

3 " Mater pulchrae dilectionis et Gustos virginitatis." 

4 Crist, istr. p. 3, r. 34, 2. 

264 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

grossest impurities went one day to confession to Father 
Nicholas Zucchi, of the Society of Jesus. The Father 
prescribed as a remedy for his wicked habits that he 
should recommend himself, morning and evening, to the 
purity of Mary, by saying three " Hail Marys." After 
the lapse of several years the sinner returned to Father 
Zucchi, and by his confession showed that all his 
vices were perfectly corrected. The Father asked him 
how such a change had been wrought. He answered 
that through the little devotion of saying the three 
" Hail Marys" he had obtained the grace to change his 

Father Zucchi, with the permission of the penitent, 
mentioned the fact from the pulpit. There was a soldier 
present who was actually in the habit of sins of impurity; 
he began to say every day the three " Hail Marys," and 
in a short time, with the aid that the divine Mother 
obtained for him, he soon renounced the evil habit. 
Through a false zeal, he went one day to the accomplice 
of his sins in order to convert her; but when he was on 
the point of entering her house he was suddenly driven 
back, and found himself transported to a considerable 
distance. He then understood that he had been pre 
vented from speaking to the woman by a special grace 
obtained for him by Mary, for which he thanked her. 
Had he been placed again in the occasion of sin he 
would probably have relapsed.* 

* This double example is related with some other details in the 
Glories of Mary, p. 2, Disc. 4 (Vol. VII. page 379). 

INSTR. iv.] Preaching. 265 



IF all preachers and confessors fulfilled the obligations 
of their office the whole world would be sanctified. Bad 
preachers and bad confessors are the ruin of the world. 
By bad preachers and confessors I mean those that do 
not fulfil their duty as they ought. 

We shall treat, first, of the preaching of the divine 
word, and afterwards of the administration of the sac 
rament of penance. 


By preaching, the faith has been propagated, and by 
the same means God wishes it to be preserved: Faith 
cometh by hearing: and hearing by the word of Christ? But 
for a Christian, it is not enough to know what he is 
obliged to do; it is, moreover, necessary for him, by 
hearing the divine word from time to time, to be re 
minded of the importance of eternal salvation, and of 
the means which he ought to adopt in order to secure it. 
Hence the following command of St. Paul to Timothy: 
Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, 
entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. 1 And the same 
command God had long before given to the Prophets 
Isaias and Jeremias. To the former he said: Cry, cease 

1 " Fides exauditu; auditus autem perverbum Christi." Rom. x. 17 

2 " Praedica verbum: insta opportune, importune; argue, obsecra, 
increpa, in omni patientia et doctrina." 2 Tim. iv. 2. 

266 Material for Instructions. [PART IT. 

not to lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people 
their wicked doings? To the latter: Behold, I have given 
My words in thy mouth: lo, I have set thee this day over the 
nations, and over kingdoms, to root up and to pull down, . . . 
to build and to plant? The same command he has also 
imposed on his priests; for preaching is one of their 
principal duties. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, 
. . . to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you? 
And should a sinner be damned through the fault of him 
who preaches the divine word, God will demand an ac 
count of the priest who could have announced the truths 
of salvation to that lost soul. If, when I say to the wicked 
thou shalt surely die, thou declare it not to him; . . . the same 
wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his 
blood at thy hand? 

But, to save souls, it is not enough to preach: it is, as 
I have already said, necessary to preach in a proper 
manner. In the first place, in order to preach well 
learning and study are necessary. He who preaches at 
random will do more injury than service to religion. In 
the second place, an exemplary life is necessary. The 
sermons of the man whose conduct excites contempt 
shall be despised, says St. Gregory. 5 And St. John 
Chrysostom writes: "How is it possible fora priest to 
persuade by his words, when his acts are in opposition 

1 " Clama, ne cesses: quasi tuba, exalta vocem tuam, et annuntia 
populo meo scelera eorum." Is. Iviii. i. 

a " Ecce dedi verba mea in ore tuo; ecce constitui te hodie super 
gentes et super regna, ut evellas, et destinas, . . . et redifices, et 
plantes." Jer. i. 9. 

3 " Euntes ergo, docete omnes gentes . . . servare omnia qurecum 
que mandavi vobis." Matt, xxviii. 19. 

4 " Si, dicente me ad impium: Morte morieris; non annuntiaveris ei, 
. . . ipse impius in iniquitate sua morietur, sanguinem autem ejus de 
manu tua requiram." Ezech. iii. 18. 

5 " Cujus vita despicitur, restat ut ejus prsedicatio contemnatur." In 
Evang. horn. 12. 

INSTR. iv.] Preaching. 267 

to his doctrine." The preaching of such a man shall 
serve only for his condemnation; for according to St. 
Paul, he who reproves in others what he does himself, 
condemns himself: Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever 
thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, 
thou condemnest thyself? Justly, then, did Father John 
d Avila say to a person who asked what rule he should 
follow in order to preach well, that the best means of 
preaching well was to love Jesus Christ ardently. * He," 
says St. Gregory, " who is not on fire does not inflame." J 
The divine love must first burn in the preacher, that he 
may afterwards kindle it in others. St. Francis de Sales 
used to say that the heart speaks to the heart. 4 He 
meant, that words alone speak to the ears, but do not 
enter the soul. He only who speaks from the heart, 
that is, he who feels and practises what he preaches, 
shall speak to the heart of others, and shall move them 
to the love of God. Hence, according to the words of 
the Redeemer, that which ye hear in the ear, preach yc on 
the housetop? The preacher must have an affection for 
mental prayer, in which he may excite the sentiments 
that he will afterwards communicate to others. Mental 
prayer is the blessed furnace in which sacred orators are 
inflamed with divine love. /;/ my meditation, says David, 
a fire shall flame out? Here they form the fiery darts 
that afterwards wound the hearts of their hearers. 

It is necessary to preach with a good intention, that 
is, not for temporal interest, but for the glory of God^ 
not to attract empty praises, but to procure the salva- 

1 " Denegatis in opere, quod videmini profited in verbo." Horn. 40. 

2 " Inexcusabilis es, o homo omnis qui judicas ! in quo enim judicas 
alterum, teipsum condemnas." Rom. ii. i. 

3 " Lucerna quse non ardet, non accendit." In Ezech. horn. n. 

4 De la Pred. ch. 5, a. I. 

6 " Quod in aure auditis, praedicate super tecta." Matt. x. 27. 
6 " In meditatione mea exardescet ignis." Ps. xxxviii. 4. 

268 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

tion of souls. Hence, as the Council of Trent ordains, 
it is the duty of preachers to preach in a manner accom 
modated to the capacity of their hearers: " Archpriests 
shall, either personally or by others who are competent, 
feed the people committed to them." ] Empty words 
and sounding periods are, says St. Francis de Sales 
the pest of sermons. a First, because God does not co 
operate with vain preaching. Secondly, because the 
persons who are present at sermons are generally rude 
and illiterate, and incapable of understanding flowery 
discourses. What a pity, sometimes, to see so many of 
the poor going to the sermon, and afterwards leaving 
the church afflicted and wearied, without having under 
stood almost any part of the discourse. Justly has 
Father John d Avila said, that they who preach in a 
lofty style, not intelligible to the audience, are traitors 
to Jesus Christ; and that, though sent by him to procure 
his glory, they seek only their own exaltation. Justly, 
too, has Father Caspar Sanzio said, that such preachers 
are at the present day the greatest persecutors of the 
Church, because by their sermons they are the cause of 
the perdition of many souls that would be saved by 
exhortations composed in a simple and apostolic style. 
My preaching, says the Apostle, was not in the persuasive 
words of human wisdom, but in showing of the spirit and 
power. 3 In the lives of the saints who were employed in 
saving souls I find many praised for preaching in simple 
and popular language, but I have not found one eulogized 
for having preached in a labored and flowery style. 
It will be useful to abridge, in this place, what the 

1 " Archipresbyteri, per se vel per alios idoneos, plebes sibi commis- 
sas, pro earum capacitate, pascent Salutaribus verbis." Sess. 5, de 
Ref. c. 2. 

De la Predic. ch. 5, a. I. 

3 Praedicatio mea non in persuasibilibus humanae sapientiae verbis, 
sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis." i Cor. ii. 4. 

INSTR. iv.] Preaching. 269 

learned and celebrated Muratori has written in his 
golden little treatise entitled Popular Eloquence. 

There are, he says, two sorts of eloquence: the sublime, 
and the popular. The sublime eloquence directs us in 
the composition of discourses which treat of lofty 
subjects, contain ingenious reflections, select language, 
and turned periods. With the aid of the popular elo 
quence the eternal truths are expounded nakedly, sub 
jects easily understood are explained in a simple and 
familiar style, so that each person present may under 
stand the entire instruction. In sermons, we address 
not only the learned, but also the uninstructed, and 
these ordinarily form the greater part of the audience. 
Hence it is always expedient to preach in a simple, 
popular style, not only in the missions and spiritual ex 
ercises, but also in all sermons addressed to the people. 
In the sight of God, the souls of the learned and un 
learned are equally precious; and, according to the 
words of the Apostle: To the wise and to the unwise I am 
a debtor? The preacher is obliged to seek the sanctifi- 
cation of the latter as well as of the former. Besides, 
even to the learned, sermons composed in a simple and 
familiar style are more profitable than discourses written 
in lofty and florid language. For in sublime discourses 
the mind stops to admire and criticise (and this frequent 
ly happens); but the will is left without food, and de 
rives no profit from the sermon. Father Paul Segneri, 
Junior, by preaching in a popular manner ravished 
(these are the words of Muratori) the hearts even of 
the learned. The same was the result of the sermons of 
St. John Francis Regis. 

He who wishes to preach, not for the purpose of ac 
quiring praise, but of gaining souls to God, should not 
seek to hear others say: Oh, what beautiful thoughts! 
What a splendid speaker! What a great man ! But he 
1 " Sapientibus et insipientibus debitor sum." Rom* i. 14. 

2 70 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

should desire to see all going away with their heads 
bowed down, weeping over their sins, resolved to change 
their lives, and to give themselves to God. The end of 
true rhetoric is to persuade and move the audience to 
practise what is inculcated in the discourse. Even in 
popular eloquence, preachers avail themselves of the art 
of rhetoric, of figures, of the arrangement of the argu 
ments, of the language, of the peroration. But all must 
be done simply and without show of art, in order to 
reap not applause, but fruit. If in such sermons the 
audience are not delighted by elegant language and in 
genious reflections, they shall certainly be pleased to 
find themselves enlightened and moved to attend to 
what alone is important their eternal salvation. 

And what has been said is, according to Muratori, 
applicable to sermons preached in cities, where the 
audience consists of the ignorant and the learned; but 
he adds, that in addressing the common people or the 
inhabitants of the villages the preacher must adopt the 
most popular and lowest kind of eloquence, in order to 
accommodate his instruction to their weak understand 
ing. He must imagine himself to be one of them, and 
that another is anxious to instruct him in some duty 
and to persuade him to fulfil it. Hence his language 
ought to be popular and common, the periods short and 
unconnected, imitating the very mode of reasoning that 
such persons usually adopt among themselves. In a 
word, the whole study of the preacher should be to 
make the audience understand ali he says, and to move 
his hearers most effectually to do what he exhorts them 
to practise. And as the preacher should adopt a familiar 
style, so he should also select subjects easily understood; 
omitting scholastic points and ingenious interpretations 
of Scripture, which though intelligible will be unprofit 
able to the poor and illiterate. The great object should 
be to explain nakedly and simply the eternal truths, 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 271 

the importance of salvation, and to lay before the people 
the illusions of the devil, the dangers of perdition, and 
the means to be adopted in some particular cases that 
may occur. In this consists the breaking of bread to 
the little ones, which the Lord demands of preachers, 
and of the general neglect of which he complains: The 
little ones have asked for bread, and there was none to break it 
unto them. 1 In speaking to the uninstructed, it is also 
very useful to ask questions from time to time, and to 
reply to them. It is useful to bring forward examples 
of the saints, or examples of punishments inflicted on 
sinners. But above all, it is useful to inculcate things 
which are practical, and to repeat them several times, 
that they may remain impressed on the weak under 
standing of the poor. 

Such the doctrine of Muratori, which I have here 
abridged in order to show that the sacred orators who 
preach in a high and florid style to the poor, who gen 
erally compose the audiences in our churches, receive 
even from the learned censure rather than praise. 

This is enough on preaching the divine word. I hope 
hereafter, in treating of the exercises of the mission, to 
subjoin other reflections on the manner of preaching to 
be adopted in the missions, and on the method of 
arranging the sermons. Let us now pass to the admin 
istration of the sacrament of penance. 

The Administration of the Sacrament of Penance. 

The great Pontiff, St. Pius V., said: " Give us fit con 
fessors, and surely the whole of Christianity will be re 
formed." 2 He who wishes to be a good confessor must, 

1 "Parvuli petierunt panem, et non erat qui frangeret eis." Lam. 
iv. 4. 

2 " Dentur idonei confessarii; ecce omnium Christianorum plena re- 

272 Material for Instructions. IPART n. 

in the first place, consider that the office of a confessor 
is very difficult and dangerous, and that on account of 
its difficulty and danger the Council of Trent has called 
it an office to be dreaded even by angels. 1 And what, 
says St. Laurence Justinian, can be more perilous than 
to assume the responsibility of rendering to God an 
account of the life of others? 2 St. Gregory says that 
no error is more dangerous than that which is com 
mitted in the direction of souls. 3 It is certain that if 
a soul be lost through the fault of her confessor, God 
will demand of him an account of that soul: / will 
require My flock at their hand? And the Apostle writes: 
Obey your prelates, . . . for they watch, as being to render 
an account of your souls* Hence, according to St. Greg 
ory, a confessor has to render to God an account of as 
many souls as he has penitents. 6 And St. John Chry- 
sostom says: " If we already tremble having to render 
an account of our own sins, what awaits him who has to 
render an account of so many souls ?" 7 

This is not applicable to those good priests who, pene 
trated with a holy fear, labor to qualify themselves for 
this great office, and afterwards devote themselves to 
the exercise of it, through the sole desire of bringing 
souls to God. It is intended only for those who under 
take to hear confessions through worldly motives, or 

1 " Onus angelicis humeris formidandum." Sess. 6, de Rcf. c. i. 

2 " Periculosa res est, pro peccatoribus se fidejussorem constituere." 
DC Inst. Free I. c. 6. 

3 " Nullibi periculosius erratur." 

4 " Requiram gregem meum de manu eorum. " Ezech. xxxiv. 10. 

6 " Obedite praepositis vestris, et subjacete eis; ipsi enim pervigilant, 
quasi rationem pro animabus vestris reddituri." Heb. xiii. 17. 

6 " Quot regendis subditis praeest, reddendae apud eum rationis tern- 
pore, ut ita dicam, tot solus animas habet." Moral. \. 24, c. 30. 

7 " Si horremus, dum peccatorum propriorum rationem reddituri 
sumus, quid illi expectandum est, qui tarn multorum nomine causam sit 
dicturus ?." De Sacerd. 1. 3. 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 273 

temporal interest, or self-esteem, or, as sometimes hap 
pens, without the necessary learning. 


St. Laurence Justinian says: " Many graces and not a 
little knowledge is needed by him who desires to raise 
souls to life." He, then, who wishes to hear confes 
sions, stands in need of extensive knowledge. Some 
imagine the science of Moral Theology to be easy, but 
Gerson justly says that it is the most difficult of all 
sciences. And before him St. Gregory said: "The 
directing of souls is the art of arts." 2 St. Gregory 
Nazianzen writes: " To direct men seems to me to be 
the greatest of all sciences." : St. Francis de Sales also 
used to say that the office of confessor is of all offices 
the most important and the most difficult. It is the 
most important, because on it depends the eternal sal 
vation of souls, which is the end of all the sciences. It 
is the most difficult, because the science of Moral The 
ology requires a knowledge of many other sciences, and 
embraces an immense variety of matter. It is also most 
difficult, because different decisions must be given, ac 
cording to the different circumstances of the cases that 
occur; for, a principle by which a case involving a cer 
tain circumstance may be decided will not answer for 
the solution of another case containing a different cir 

Some disdain to read the works of the moralists, saying 
that to hear confessions is enough to know the general 
principles of Moral Theology, by which, they add, the 
particular cases may be resolved. I answer: It is cer 
tain that all cases must be decided by means of prin 
ciples, but there is great difficulty in applying to par- 

" Gratia indiget plurima, et sapientia non modica, qui proximorum 
animas ad vitam resuscitate conatur. " De Compunct. p. 2. 

2 " Ars est artium regimen animarurn." Past. p. i, c. i. 

3 " Scientiascientiarum mihi esse videturhominem regere." ApoL i. 


274 Material for Instructions. IPART n. 

ticular cases just principles of solution. This the 
moralists have done. They have labored to explain the 
principles by which many particular cases may be re 
solved. Besides, at present there is a great number of 
positive laws contained in the bulls and decrees of 
Pontiffs, as well as in the ancient canons, and which a 
confessor is obliged to know. Of these laws he who 
neglects to read Moral Theology shall scarcely be able 
to acquire a competent knowledge. The learned author 
of The Instruction for Young Confessors justly says that 
many divines are as deficient in Moral Theology as they 
are profound in the speculative sciences. But, on the 
other hand, Monsignor Sperelli asserts that it is a great 
error in some confessors to devote all their time to 
scholastic theology, considering the study of Moral 
Theology as lost time, Such confessors, as he says, are 
afterwards unable to distinguish one sin from another. 
He then adds: " This is an error that will cause eternal 
ruin both to the confessor and to the penitents." 

We must, then, be persuaded that to hear confessions 
great science and also great prudence are required; for 
with knowledge without prudence a confessor shall do 
but little good, and to some his ministry will be more 
injurious than beneficial. 


Sanctity is still more necessary, on account of the 
great fortitude which a confessor requires in the exercise 
of his ministry. " Only he that is a great saint," says St. 
Laurence Justinian, "can without injury to himself 
occupy himself with the care of souls." 5 

I. A confessor requires a great fund of charity in re- 

1 " Qui error confessarios simui et poenitentes in aeternum interitum 

2 " Nemo, nisi valde sanctus, absque sui detrimento, proximorum 
curis occupatur." De Casio Conn. c. 12. 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 275 

ceiving all the poor, the ignorant, and the vicious. 
Some hear the confessions only of pious persons; but 
when a poor peasant comes with a conscience loaded 
with sins, they hear him with impatience, and send him 
away with reproaches. Hence the miserable man, who 
must have done great violence to himself in resolving 
to go to confession, seeing himself dismissed in such a 
manner, will conceive a horror for the sacrament, and a 
dread of approaching it any more, and thus, through 
despair, will abandon himself to a dissolute life. To 
such confessors the Redeemer (who came to save sin 
ners, and was therefore full of charity) says what he 
said to his disciples: You know not of what spirit you 
are. But such is not the conduct of confessors who, in 
obedience to the exhortation of the Apostle, put on the 
bowels of charity: Put ye on, therefore, as the elect of God, 
. . . the bowels of mercy? When a sinner comes to con 
fession, the more abandoned he is, the more they labor 
to assist him, and the greater the charity with which 
they treat him. You are not, says Hugo of St. Victor, 
appointed judges of crimes, to chastise, but, as it were, 
judges of maladies to heal." : It is indeed necessary to 
admonish the sinner, in order to make him understand 
his miserable state, and the danger of damnation to 
which he is exposed; but he must be always admonished 
with charity, he must be excited to confidence in the 
divine mercy, and must be taught the means by which 
he may amend his life. And though the confessor 
should be obliged to defer absolution, he ought to dis 
miss the penitent with sweetness; fixing a day for him 
to return, and pointing out the remedies that he must 

1 " Nescitis cujus spiritus estis." Ltike, ix. 55. 

2 " Induite vos ergo, sicut elect! Dei, sancti et dilecti, viscera miseri 
cord iae." Col. iii. 12. 

3 "Vos non, quasi judices criminum, ad percutiendum positi estis, 
sed, quasi judices morborum, ad sanandum." Misc. 1. I, tit. 49. 

2 76 Material for Instructions. [PART n 

practise in the mean time, in order to prepare himself 
for absolution. Sinners are saved in this way, but not 
by harshness and reproaches, which drive them to de 
spair. St. Francis de Sales used to say: " More flies are 
caught by a drop of honey than by a pound of aloes." 
But some will say, if we treat sinners in this manner a 
great deal of our time will be taken up, and others who 
are waiting cannot be heard. But in answer I say, that 
it is better to hear one confession well than to hear a 
great number imperfectly. But the most appropriate 
answer is, that the confessor has not to give an account 
to God of the persons who are waiting, but only of the 
person whose confession he has begun to hear. 

II. The confessor also stands in need of great for 
titude, and at first in hearing the confessions of women. 
How many priests have lost their souls in hearing these 
confessions! We must treat in the confessional with 
young girls and young women; we must hear their 
temptations and often the avowal of their falls; for they 
also are of flesh and blood. We have a natural affec 
tion for persons of the other sex, and this affection in 
creases whenever they confide to us their miseries. But 
if these persons are pious, devoted to spirituality, says 
St. Thomas, the danger of an inordinate attachment is 
yet greater, since this natural affection is still more 
strongly attracted; but, continues the saint, if mutual 
affection increases, the attachment w r ill also increase in 
the same proportion; it will assume at first the appear 
ance of piety, and the devil will easily succeed in mak 
ing " the spiritual devotion change into carnal devo 
tion." 1 

Great fortitude is necessary in correcting penitents 
and in refusing absolution to those who have not the 
requisite dispositions, without any regard to their rank 
or power, or to the loss or injury which the confessor 

1 " Spiritualis devotio convertatur in carnalem." De Modo con fit. 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 277 

may sustain, or to the imputations of indiscretion or of 
ignorance which may be cast upon him. Seek not, says 
the Holy Ghost, to be made a judge unless thoit hast strength 
enough to extirpate iniquities, lest thou fear the person of the 
powerful? A Father of our Congregation had occasion 
to hear in the sacristy the confession of a priest, whom he 
refused to absolve. The priest, rising up in a proud and 
haughty manner, said to him: " Begone ! you are a 
brute." But there is no remedy: poor confessors must 
submit to such inconveniences and insults. For it often 
happens that they are bound to refuse or to defer abso 
lution, either because the penitent will not do what they 
require of him, or because he is a relapsing sinner, or 
because he is in the proximate occasion of sin. And 
here it is necessary to examine how a confessor should 
treat relapsing sinners, and those who are in the occa 
sion of sin. For, in order to save his penitents, the con 
fessor should attend with the greatest care to relapsing 
sinners, and to those who are in the occasion of sin. 

But, before we enter on this subject, it is necessary to 
remark, that a confessor exposes himself to as much 
danger of damnation by treating his penitents with too 
much rigor as he does by treating them with excessive 

Too much indulgence, says St. Bonaventure, begets 
presumption, and too much rigor leads to despair. 2 
There is no doubt that many err by being too indulgent: 
and such persons cause great havoc and I say even 
the greatest havoc; for libertines, who are the most 
numerous class, go in crowds to these lax confessors, 

" Noli quaerere fieri judex, nisi valeas virtute irrumpere iniquitates, 
ne forte extimescas faciem potentis." Ecdus. vii. 6. 

2 " Cavenda est conscientia nimis larga, et nimis stricta; nam prima 
generat praesumptionem, secunda desperationem. Prima saepe salvat 
damnandum; secunda, e contra, damnat salvandum. Comp. theol. 1. 2, 
c. 52. 

278 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

and find in them their own perdition. But it is also 
certain that confessors who are too rigid cause great 
evil. You ruled over them with rigor, and with a high hand. 
And My sheep were scattered? etc. Too much rigor, says 
Gerson, serves only to bring souls to despair, and from 
despair to the abyss of vice. 2 Hence he says in another 
place: " The Doctors of theology should not, if they are 
not certain, be so ready to assert that certain sins are 
mortal sins." 3 Such also is the doctrine of St. Raymond. 
" Do not be so prone," says the saint, " to declare mor 
tal sins, unless it be clear from Scripture." 4 St. Antonine 
teaches the same. " It is very dangerous," he says, " to 
decide whether or not something is mortal, if this be not 
clear from the authority of Scripture, of a canon, or of an 
evident reason. " For, as the saint adds, he who, with 
out some of the above-mentioned grounds, pronounces 
an action to be a mortal sin, exposes souls to the danger 
of damnation. 6 Speaking of the vain ornaments of 
women the same holy archbishop says: " From what 
has been said it seems that we must conclude that if the 
confessor clearly and undoubtedly sees that one cannot 
use such an ornament without mortal sin, he cannot 
give absolution if the penitent does not take the resolu- 

1 " Cum austeritate imperabitis eis, et cum potentia; et dispersae sunt 
oves meae." Ezech. xxxiv. 4. 

2 " Per tales assertiones nimis duras et strictas, praesertim in non 
certissimis, nequaquam eruuntur homines aluto peccatorum, sed in illud 
profundius, quia desperatius, immerguntur." 

3 " Doctores theologi ne sint faciles asserere actiones aliquas aut omis- 
siones esse mortalia, praesertim. in non certissimis." De Vita. sp. led. 
4, cor. ii. 

4 " Non sis nimis pronus judicare mortalia peccata, ubi tibi non con- 
stat per certam Scripturam." Stimm. 1. 3, de Pcenit. 21. 

5 " Quoestio qua quaeritur de aliquo actu utrum sit peccatum mortale 
vel non, nisi ad hoc habeatur auctoritas expressa Scripturae sacrae, aut 
canonis, seu determinationis Ecclesiae, vel evidens ratio, non nisipericu- 
losissime determinatur." P. 2, tit. i, c. n, 28. 

6 "^Edificat ad gehennam." 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 279 

tion to avoid such a sin. But if one does not clearly see 
whether this is a mortal sin, one must not hasten to a 
decision by either refusing absolution or by representing 
it to the penitent as a mortal sin. If the penitent should 
afterwards do the same thing, it would be for him a mor 
tal sin, even if it were in itself no mortal sin; for every 
thing that is against conscience exposes the soul to 
damnation. And since one should use his power rather 
to loosen than to bind, and it is better to have to give 
an account to the Lord for too great mercy than too 
great rigor, as St. John Chrysostom teaches, it seems to 
be better to absolve such penitents and to leave them to 
the divine judgment." l Silvester teaches the same doc 
trine; he says: "I say with St. Antonine, that one may 
with a good conscience choose an opinion and act accord 
ing to it, if he has on his side notable teachers, and if it 
is not opposed to any decision of Scripture, of the 
Church, etc." 2 And this is also the opinion of John 
Nider, who, after giving the opinion of Doctor William, 
quotes the passage of Bernard of Clermont or of Gan- 
nat of Auvergne: " If among the masters of sacred 

1 " Ex prsedictis igitur videtur dicendum quod, ubi in hujusmodi 
ornatibus confessor inveniat clare et indubitanter mortale, talem non 
absolvat, nisi proponat abstinere a tali crimine. Si vero non potest 
clare perspicere utrum sit mortale vel veniale, non videtur tune prae- 
cipitanda sententia (ut dicit Gulielmus specie in quadam simili), ut 
scilicet deneget propter hoc absolutionem, vel illi faciat conscientiam 
de mortali; quia, faciendo postea contra illud, etiamsi illud non esset 
mortale, ei erit mortale, quia omne quod est contra conscientiam, 
aedificat ad gehennam. Et cum promptiora sint jura ad solvendum 
quam ad ligandum (Can. Ponderet, dist. i), et melius sit Domino reddere 
rationem de nimia misericordia quam de nimia severitate, ut dicit 
Chrysostomus (Can. Alligant, 26, q. 7), potius videtur absolvendum et 
divino examini dimittendum." P. 2, tit. 4, c. 5, 8. 

2 " Dico, secundum Archiepiscopum, quod tuta conscientia potest 
quis eligere unam opinionem, et secundum earn operari, si habeat 
notabiles doctores, et non sit expresse contra determinationem Scrip 
ture vel Ecclesiae, etc." Sum?na, verbo Scrupulus, 5- 

280 Material for Instructions.. [PART n 

science some say that there is a mortal sin and others 
deny that it is, then we must consult some learned and 
prudent persons in whom we have confidence, and after 
having taken their advice we must decide whether or 
not there is a sin. For the moment that the masters 
discuss among themselves and the Church has not given 
any decision, one may freely embrace that opinion in 
favor of which we can cite the testimony of wise and pru 
dent persons. 1 And this is conformable to the teaching 
of St. Thomas. " He who adopts the opinion of a particu 
lar Doctor against a formal text of Scripture or against 
the universal sentiment of the Church, cannot be excused 
from culpable error." 2 Then, according to the angelic 
Doctor, a person is excused from error when the opinion 
that he holds rests on the foundation of authority, and 
is not opposed to any clear passage of Scripture or to 
any definition of the Church. Finally, the same doc 
trine has been laid down more clearly by Gabriel Biel, 
who flourished in the year 1480. " The opinion," he says. 
" that is more probable to me is, that we must never 
condemn as a mortal sin anything for which we cannot 
allege either a very evident reason or the formal testi 
mony of Scripture." : 

1 " Concordat etiam Bernardus Claramontensis, dicens: Si sunt opini- 
ones inter magnos dicentes quod peccatum est, alii vero dicunt quod 
non, tune debet consulere aliquos, de quorum judicio confidit, et secun- 
dum consilium discretorum facere, et peccatum reputare vel non re 
putare; ex quo enim opiniones sunt inter magnos, et Ecclesia non de- 
terminavit alteram pattern, teneat quam voluerit, dummodo judicium in 
hoc resideat propter dicta eorum saltern quos reputat peritos." ConsoL 
tim. consc. p. 3, c. 12. 

2 " Qui ergo assentit opinioni alicujus magistri, contra manifestum 
Scripturae testimonium, sive contra id quod publice tenetur secundum 
Ecclesiae auctoritatem, non potest ab erroris vitio excusari." Quodlib. 
3, a. 10. 

3 " Prima opinio videtur probabilior, quia nihil debet damnari tam- 
quam mortale peccatum, de quo non habetur evidens ratio vel manifesta 
auctoritas Scripturae." In 4 Sent. d. 16, q. 4, concl. 5. 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 281 


But let us come to particulars, and examine how a 
confessor ought to treat persons who are in the proxi 
mate occasion of sin, and habitual sinners who relapse 
into any vice. With regard to those who are in the 
occasion of sin, it is necessary first to distinguish various 
kinds of occasions. 

I. The occasion may be remote or proximate. The re 
mote occasion is that in which a person rarely sins or 
in which men, commonly speaking, seldom fall. The 
occasion that is itself 1 proximate is that in which men 
always, or nearly always, fall. The occasion that is 
proximate by accident, 2 or the respective occasion, is 
that in which a particular person frequently sins. This 
is the correct definition of the respective occasion, ac 
cording to the true and common opinion of theologians, 
in opposition to those who hold that the proximate 
occasion is that in which a person always, or nearly 
always, yields to sin. The occasion of sin is also divided 
into voluntary and necessary. The occasion is voluntary 
when it can be removed; it is necessary when it cannot 
be avoided without grievous loss or grievous scandal to 

Many theologians say that he who is in the voluntary 
proximate occasion may be absolved once or twice, pro 
vided he has a firm purpose of removing it as soon as 
possible. But here it is necessary to distinguish, with 
St. Charles Borromeo, in his Instructions to Confessors, 
occasions that are in esse, such as when a person keeps 
a concubine in his house, from those that are not in esse, 
such as when in gaming or conversation a person falls 
into blasphemies, quarrels, and the like. 

In the occasions that are not in esse, St. Charles says 
1 "Per se." 2 " Per accidens." 

282 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

that the penitent who sincerely promises to renounce 
them may be absolved the second or third time, but 
unless he afterwards gives proof of amendment he 
should not be absolved until he has actually removed 
the occasion. In the occasions which are in esse the 
saint says that a promise is not sufficient, and that the 
penitent cannot be absolved until he has taken away 
the occasion of sin. Ordinarily speaking, this opinion 
should certainly be followed; as I have shown in my 
Moral Theology 1 by the authority of many authors. A 
penitent who wishes to receive absolution before the re 
moval of such an occasion is not disposed for the sacra 
ment; because he is in the proximate danger of violating 
his purpose as well as the obligation by which he is 
bound under pain of mortal sin to remove the occasion. 
To take away proximate occasions is very painful and 
difficult, and can be effected only by doing great vio 
lence to one s self. But he who has already received 
absolution will scarcely offer such violence to himself. 
Freed from the fear of being deprived of absolution, he 
will flatter himself with the hope of being able to resist 
temptations without taking away the occasion; and 
thus remaining in the occasion, he will certainly relapse. 
This we know by the experience of so many miserable 
sinners who, after receiving absolution from over-indul 
gent confessors, neglect to remove the occasion of sin: 
thus they fall back, and become worse than before. 
Hence, on account of the danger of violating the pur 
pose that he has made of removing the occasion of sin, 
the penitent who wishes to be absolved before he takes 
it away is not disposed for absolution, and therefore the 
confessor who absolves him is certainly guilty of sin. 
And here let it be observed, that, generally speaking, 
the greater the rigor with which the confessor treats his 
penitents, when there is question of the danger of for- 
1 Theol. Mor. 1. 6, n. 454. 

INSTR. iv.] . The Sacrament of Penance. 283 

mal sins, particularly against chastity, the more he will 
pro-mote their sanctification. But, on the other hand, 
the greater his indulgence, the greater his cruelty to 
their souls. St. Thomas of Villanova says that con 
fessors who are too indulgent are impiously merciful. 1 
Such charity is contrary to charity. 

I have said ordinarily speaking j for in some rare cases 
the confessor may absolve before the occasion is re 
moved. For example, if the penitent had evinced a 
strong determination to amend his life, along with 
great compunction, and is unable to take away the 
occasion for a long time; or if he could not return to 
the same confessor; or if there should be other extraor 
dinary circumstances which would oblige the confessor 
to absolve him. But such cases are very rare. Hence 
persons who are in the proximate occasion of sin can 
scarcely ever be absolved until they have first removed 
it; particularly if they promised at other times to take 
away the occasion, but did not afterwards fulfil their 
promise. It is useless to say that a penitent who is dis 
posed for the sacrament has, after the confession of his 
sins, a strict right to receive absolution; for it is the 
common opinion of theologians that a person who has 
confessed his sins has not a strict right to be imme 
diately absolved, and that the confessor can and should, 
as a spiritual physician, defer absolution whenever he 
knows that by deferring it he will promote the amend 
ment of his penitent. 

What has been said applies to voluntary occasions: 
but if the occasion be necessary, generally speaking there 
is not a strict obligation of removing it; for when the 
penitent does not wish, but rather suffers and permits 
it against his will, he may hope for greater help from 
God to resist the temptation. Hence, ordinarily speak 
ing, he who is in a necessary occasion of sin may be 
1 " Impie pios." 

284 Material for Instructions. . [PART n. 

absolved, provided he is determined to adopt all the 
means necessary to guard against a relapse. There are 
three principal means to be prescribed in necessary occa 
sions. The first is to fly from the occasion and avoid 
as much as possible being alone with the accomplice, 
speaking confidentially with her, or looking at her. The 
second is prayer and unceasing petition to God and the 
Blessed Virgin for help to resist the temptation. The 
third is the frequentation of the sacraments of penance 
and of the Eucharist, by which strength is obtained to 
resist temptations. 

I have said generally speaking ; for when, after having 
used all the means the penitent always relapses, without 
any amendment, then, according to the more common 
and true opinion, which is to be followed, he cannot be 
absolved until he quits the occasion of sin, though it 
should cost him his life, 1 as the theologians say; for he 
should prefer eternal to temporal life. I add, that 
though, according to the rules of Moral Theology, a per 
son who is in the necessary occasion of sin may be ab 
solved whenever he is properly disposed for the sacra 
ment, still, w r hen the occasion leads to sins against purity, 
it will, ordinarily speaking, be expedient to defer abso 
lution until it appears by the experience of a consider 
able time, of twenty or thirty days, that the penitent 
has been faithful in practising the means prescribed, and 
that he has not relapsed. I also add, that when the 
confessor knows that it will be useful to defer absolu 
tion he is bound to defer it; for he is obliged to adopt 
the most efficacious remedies for the amendment of his 
penitent. I say, moreover, that when a person is long 
habituated to sins of impurity, it will not be enough for 
him to avoid proximate occasions: it will be also neces 
sary for him to remove certain occasions which of them 
selves would, perhaps, be remote, but with regard to 
1 " Etiam cum jactura vitae." 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 285 

him will be not remote, but proximate. Because by so 
many relapses he has become weak and strongly inclined 
to the vice of impurity. 

II. With regard to relapsing sinners, it is necessary to 
distinguish between them and habitual sinners. 

Habitual sinners are those who have contracted a habit 
of any vice, but have never confessed the habit. If they 
are truly penitent, and firmly resolved to adopt the means 
of overcoming their evil habit, they may be absolved the 
first time they confess the habit, or when they confess 
the sin after having, for a considerable time, retracted 
the habit. But let it be observed, that when a penitent 
has contracted a bad habit, particularly if it has become 
inveterate, the confessor can certainly defer absolution, 
in order to try by experience how the penitent practised 
the means prescribed. 

But relapsing sinners are those who after confession 
have fallen back into the same habit without any amend 
ment. They cannot be absolved when they show only 
the ordinary signs of repentance such as the confession 
of their sins, along with the declaration that they are 
penitent, and resolved to amend their lives. For Inno 
cent XI. has justly condemned the following proposi 
tion: "The moment that a sinner guilty of infringing a 
divine law, either positive or natural, or a precept of the 
Church, even if he gave no hope of amendment, but pro 
tests at least that he repents and wishes to amend, one 
cannot refuse or defer absolution." * Because although 
the confession itself, along with a declaration on the 
part of the habitual sinner that he is sorry for his sins, 
and resolved to avoid them for the future, gives a kind 
of moral certainty that he is disposed for the sacrament, 

1 " Poenitenti habenti consuetudinem peccandi contra legem Dei. 
naturae, aut Ecclesise, etsi emendationis nulla spes appareat, nee est 
neganda nee differenda absolutio, dummodo ore proferat se dolere et 
proponere emendationem." Prop. damn. 60. 

286 Material for Instructions. IPART n. 

unless there is a presumption in favor of the contrary, 
still when a habit has been contracted, and when, with 
out any improvement, several relapses have taken place 
after absolution, there is strong reason to suspect that 
the sorrow and purpose of amendment of the penitent 
are not sincere. Hence, such a penitent should not be 
absolved until he shows by a change of conduct for 
some time, and "by practising the means prescribed, that 
he has the dispositions necessary for the sacrament. 

Remember that this holds not only for those who re 
lapse into mortal sin, but also for those who relapse into 
venial sins, which many penitents confess through cus 
tom, but without sorrow and a purpose of amendment. 
If they wish to receive absolution, the confessor should 
make them give certain matter for the sacrament, by 
the confession of a more grievous sin of their past life, 
for which they are truly penitent, and which they are 
firmly resolved to avoid for the future. 

Hence, to absolve relapsing sinners, it is necessary for 
the confessor to try for some time the sincerity of their 
repentance; or at least to see some extraordinary signs 
of sorrow, which exclude the conditions of the con 
demned propositions, and give a well-founded hope of 
their amendment. These signs are, according to the 

1. Great compunction, manifested by tears or by 
words, proceeding not from the mouth but from the 
heart. From expressions of this kind we sometimes 
get more certainty of a penitent s fitness for absolution 
than even from tears; 

2. A considerable diminution in the number of sins, 
though the penitent was exposed to the same occasions 
and temptations; 

3. Greater caution against relapses, by avoiding the 
occasions, and by practising the means prescribed; or a 
great struggle made before consenting to sin; 

INSTR. iv.] The Sacrament of Penance. 287 

4. When the penitent asks, with a sincere desire of 
amendment, for new remedies or means of freeing him 
self from the sin; 

5. If he come to confession, not to conform to any 
pious custom already established, such as the practice 
of going to the sacraments at Christmas, or any other 
determinate festival; not by the direction of a parent or 
master, but through a desire infused by God of recover 
ing the divine grace; particularly if the penitent has put 
himself to great inconvenience in order to come to con 
fession, by making a long journey; or if he has come 
after a great struggle, or after doing great violence to 

6. If he has been impelled to go to confession by 
hearing a sermon, by the account of the sudden death 
or some great calamity of another, or by any other 
extraordinary spiritual motive; 

7. If he confesses sins previously concealed through 

8. If the penitent shows that by the admonition of 
the confessor he has acquired new light, and a new 
horror for his sins, and a new dread of the danger of 
being lost; 

9. Some theologians place among the extraordinary 
signs of repentance a firm promise made by the peni 
tent to practise the remedies prescribed by his con 
fessor; but unless there is some other sign, the confessor 
can seldom trust to such promises. For in order to 
obtain absolution the more easily, penitents make many 
promises that they are not firmly resolved to fulfil. 

Whenever, then, there are such extraordinary signs, a 
confessor may absolve a relapsing sinner; but he may 
also defer absolution for some time, when he knows that 
delay will be profitable to his- penitent. Some maintain 
that it is not always expedient to defer the absolution of 
a relapsing sinner who has the necessary dispositions; 

288 Material for Instructions. LPARTH. 

others teach that it is better to put off the absolution, un 
less the delay and privation of Communion should give 
others grounds of suspicion injurious to the reputation 
of the penitent. My opinion is, as I have stated in my 
Instructions to Confessors? that where there is no external 
occasion, and the sins are committed through internal 
frailty, such as blasphemies, hatred, pollution, morose 
delectation, etc., it is seldom expedient to defer absolu 
tion. For we may always hope for better fruit from the 
aid of the grace which the penitent receives from the 
sacrament than from the delay of absolution. But when 
there is an external occasion, though necessary, I, as has 
been already said, deem it expedient, and generally 
speaking necessary, for the amendment of the penitent, 
who is even disposed for the sacrament, to defer abso 

1 Homo Apost. tr. tilt, punct. 2. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 289 



Necessity of Mental Prayer for Priests. 

IF, as the most learned Suarez 1 has asserted, mental 
prayer is morally necessary for all the faithful, it is still 
more necessary for priests. Because priests stand in 
need of greater help from God, on account of the greater 
obligations by which they are bound to seek perfection, 
of the greater sanctity of their state, and on account of 
the office that they hold, of procuring the salvation of 
souls. Hence, like mothers, who require more corporal 
nutriment than others, because they have to support 
themselves and their children, priests stand in need of 
a double portion of spiritual nourishment. Hence St. 
Ambrose says, that to teach us the necessity of mental 
prayer our Saviour separated from the people, and went 
up the mountain to pray, 2 although he did not require 
to go into solitary places in order to pray; for his blessed 
soul, always enjoying the intuitive vision of God, was 
employed in all places and in every occupation in the 
contemplation of the divinity and in praying for us. 
St. Luke tells us, that he spent entire nights in prayer. 3 
On this passage St. Ambrose says, if Jesus Christ has 
spent nights in prayer for your salvation, how much 
more ought you to order to save your soul! 4 

1 De Orat. 1. 2, c. 4. 

2 " Et dimissa turba, ascendit in montem solus orare." Matt. xiv. 23. 

3 " Erat pernoctans in oratione." Luke, vi. 12. 

4 " Quid enim te pro salute tua facere oportet, quando pro te Chris- 
tus in oratione pernoctat !" 

290 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

Hence the saint has written in another place: "Priests 
should always devote themselves to prayer." l Father 
John d Avila used to say, that the offices which a priest 
holds of offering sacrifice and of offering incense go 
together. 2 Every one knows that incense signifies 
prayer: Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight* 
Hence St. John saw the angels having . . . golden vials 
full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints." Oh, 
what sweet odor do the prayers of good priests give to 
God ! On account of the necessity of mental prayer 
for ecclesiastics, St. Charles Borromeo ordained, in the 
Council of Milan, 5 that every ecclesiastic, before his 
ordination, should be interrogated in a special manner 
whether he knew how to make mental prayer, whether 
he was in the habit of making it, and what meditations 
he used. Father John d Avila once dissuaded a person 
from taking priesthood because he was not accustomed 
to make mental prayer. 

I do not intend to detail at length the reasons why 
the practice of mental prayer is morally necessary for 
every priest. It is enough to say, that without mental 
prayer a priest has but little light; for without it he will 
reflect but little on the great affair of salvation, he will 
scarcely see the obstacles to it, and the obligations that 
he must fulfil in order to be saved. Hence the Saviour 
said to his disciples: Let your loins be girt, and lamps burn 
ing in your hands. 6 These lamps, says St. Bonaventure, 7 

1 " (Sacerdotes) die noctuque pro plebe sibi commissa oportet orare." 
/// i 7V///. iii. 

2 " Incensum enim Domini et panes Dei sui offerunt." Levit. xxi. 6. 

3 " Dirigatur oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo." Ps. 
cxl. 2. 

4 " Phialas aureas plenas odoramentorum, quse sunt orationes sanc 
torum." Apoc. v. 8. 

5 Anno 1579, Const, p. 3, n. 2. 

G "Sint lumbi vestri praecincti, et lucernse ardentes in manibus 
vestris." Luke, xii. 35. 
7 DicEta sal. t. 2, c. 5. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 291 

are holy meditations, in which the Lord enlightens us. 
Come ye to Him and be enlightened. 1 He who does not 
make mental prayer has but little light and little 
strength. In the repose of meditation, says St. Ber 
nard, we acquire strength to resist enemies and to prac 
tise virtue. 2 He who does not sleep during the night is 
not able to stand steady, and goes tottering along the 

Be still and see that I am God* He who neglects to 
withdraw, at least now and then, from the thoughts of 
the world, and to retire to converse with God, has but 
little knowledge or light regarding the things of eternity. 
Seeing, one day, that his disciples had been greatly occu 
pied in works of fraternal charity, Jesus Christ said to 
them: Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little? Re 
tire into some solitary place and rest a while. Our 
Lord spoke of the repose, not of the body, but of the 
spirit, which unless it retire from time to time to con 
verse alone with God, has not strength to persevere in 
doing good, but easily faints and falls into sin in the 
occasions that occur. All our strength is in the divine 
aid: / can do all things in Him who strengthened me? But 
this aid God gives only to those who pray for it. He is 
most desirous of dispensing his graces to us; but, as St. 
Gregory says, he wishes that we pray to him. and that 
we, as it were, compel him by our prayers to grant them 
to us. 6 But he who neglects mental prayer has but 
little knowledge of his defects, of the dangers of losing 
the divine grace, of the means of conquering tempta- 

1 " Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

2 " Ex hoc otio vires proveniunt." 

3 " Vacate, et videte quoniam ego sum Deus." Ps. xlv. n. 

" Venite seorsum in desertum locum, et requiescite pusillum." 
Mark, vi. 31. 

& " Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat." Phil. iv. 13. 

" Vult Deus rogari, vult cogi, vult quadam importunitate vinci." 
In Ps. panit, 6 

292 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

tions, and of the need he has of asking God s graces; 
thus he will neglect to ask them, and neglecting to pray 
for them, he shall certainly be lost. Hence St. Teresa 
of Jesus used to say, that he who neglects mental prayer 
does not stand in need of devils to carry him to hell, but 
brings himself to that land of woe. 1 

Some say many vocal prayers; but he who does not 
make mental prayer will scarcely say his vocal prayers 
with attention: he will say them with distractions, and 
the Lord will not hear him. "Many cry to God," says 
St. Augustine, "but not with the voice of the soul, but 
with the voice of the body; 2 only the cry of the heart, 
of the soul, reaches God." J It is not enough to pray 
only with the tongue: we must, according to the Apostle, 
pray also with the heart if we wish to receive God s 
graces: Praying at all times in the spirit." And by experi 
ence we see that many persons who recite a great num 
ber of vocal prayers, the Office and the Rosary, fall into 
sin, and continue to live in sin. But he who attends to 
mental prayer scarcely ever falls into sin, and should 
he have the misfortune of falling into it, he will hardly 
continue to live in so miserable a state; he will either 
give up mental prayer, or renounce sin. Meditation 
and sin cannot stand together. However abandoned a 
soul may be, if she perseveres in meditation God will 
bring her to salvation. All the saints have become 
saints by mental prayer. "By prayer," says St. Laur 
ence Justinian, "fervor is renewed, and the fire of divine 
love is increased. " St. Ignatius used to say, that to 

1 Life, ch. 19. 

8 " Multi clamant, non voce sua, sed corporis. Cogitatio tua clamor 
est ad Dominum." In Ps. 141. 

3 " Clama intus, ubi Deus audit." /;/ Ps. 30, en. 4. 

4 " Orantes omni tempore in spiritu." Eph. vi. 18. Life, ch. 8. 

5 " Ex oratione fugatur tentatio, abscedit tristitia, virtus reparatur, 
excitatur fervor, et divint amoris flamma succrescit." De Casto Conn. 
c. 22. Ribadeneira, 1. 5, c. I. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 293 

remove the disturbance of mind caused by the greatest 
calamity that could befall him, a meditation of a quarter 
of an hour would be sufficient. St. Bernard has written: 
" Consideration rules the affections, directs the actions, 
corrects excesses." 1 St. John Chrysostom regards as 
dead the soul that does not make mental prayer. 2 Ruf- 
finus says that all the progress of the soul depends on 
meditation. 8 And Gerson goes so far as to assert that 
he who does not meditate, cannot, without a miracle, 
lead a Christian life. 1 Speaking of the perfection to 
which every priest is bound, St. Aloysius Gonzaga justly 
said that without a great zeal for mental prayer a soul 
will never attain great virtue. 5 

(He who desires more detailed proofs of the moral 
necessity of mental prayer, is referred to the chapter on 
meditation in the True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Ch. XV ) * 

Answer to Excuses. 

I here omit many other arguments that I could ad 
duce in favor of the necessity of mental prayer; I will 
only answer three excuses put forward by priests who 
neglect meditation. 

1 " Consideratio regit affectus, dirigit actus, corrigit excessus." De 
Consid. 1. i, c. 7. 

2 " Quisquis non orat Deum, nee divino ejus colloquio cupit assidue 
frui, is mortuus est. . . . Animae mors est, non provolvi coram Deo." 
De or. Deo, 1. I. 

3 " Omnis profectus spiritualis ex meditatione procedit." In Ps. 36. 

4 " Absque meditationis exercitio, nullus, secluso miraculo Dei, ad 
Christianse religionis normam attingit." De Med. cons. 7. 

5 Cepari, 1. 2, c 3. 

* Volume X., page 441. See also Discourse on the same subject at 
the end of this work, and the complete treatise on mental prayer that 
has been given in Volume III., page 252. ED. 

294 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

I. Some say, " I do not make mental prayer, because I 
am subject to desolation, to distractions, and to tempta 
tions; I have a wandering mind that I cannot confine to 
the subject of meditation, and therefore I have given up 
mental prayer." 

But to such persons St. Francis de Sales says, 1 that 
if in their meditations they do nothing else than banish 
distractions and temptations, the meditation is well 
made, provided the distraction is not voluntary. The 
Lord is pleased with a good intention, with a patient 
endurance, during the whole time prescribed for medi 
tation, and with the pain arising from distractions, and 
will bestow many graces in return. We ought to go to 
prayer, not to please ourselves, but to please God. Even 
holy souls generally suffer aridity in meditation, but 
because they persevere, God enriches them with his 
blessings. St. Francis de Sales used to say, an ounce 
of prayer made amid desolations is of greater value 
before God than a hundred pounds of it in the midst of 
consolations. Even statues do honor to a prince by 
standing in his galleries. Whenever, then, the Lord 
wishes us to remain as statues in his presence, let us be 
content to honor him as statues. It will then be enough 
to say to him: Lord, I remain here to please you. 

St. Isidore says that the devil never labors so hard 
to tempt and distract us as in the time of meditation. 2 
And why ? because he knows the great fruit that we 
draw from meditation, and therefore he endeavors to 
make us give it up. They, then, who abandon mental 
prayer on account of the tediousness that they feel in 
it, give great delight to the devil. In the time of aridity 
the soul should do nothing else than humble herself 
and ask God s graces. She should humble herself, for 

1 Lettre 629. 

2 " Tune magis diabolus cogitationes curarum saeculanum ingerit, 
quando orantem aspexerit." Sent. 1. 3, c. 7. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 295 

there is no better time for understanding our own mis 
eries and insufficiency than when we are desolate in 
prayer: we then see that of ourselves we can do nothing. 
Hence we should do nothing else than, uniting our 
selves with Jesus, desolate on the cross, humble our 
selves and ask mercy, saying and repeating, Lord, assist 
me: Lord, have mercy on me: my Jesus, mercy. Medi 
tation made in this manner will be the most fruitful 
of all; for to the humble God opens his hands and dis 
penses his graces: God resisteth the proud, and give th His 
grace to the humble. 1 Let us then, more than ever, fer 
vently implore mercy for ourselves and for poor sinners. 
God requires, in a special manner, of priests that they 
pray for sinners. The priests, the Lord s ministers, shall 
weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people: But 
in answer to this some may say: It is enough for me to 
say the divine office. But St. Augustine writes, that the 
barking of dogs is more pleasing to God than the pray 
ers of bad ecclesiastics. The ecclesiastic who neglects 
mental prayer soon falls away from virtue, for without 
meditation he shall scarcely acquire the ecclesiastical 
spirit. 3 

II. Others say, If I neglect mental prayer, I do not 
mis-spend my time; I employ it in study 

But the Apostle said to Timothy: Take heed to thyself 
and to doctrine* Attend first to thyself, that is, to prayer, 
and then to doctrine, that is, to study, in order to pro 
cure the salvation of others. If we are not saints, how 
can we make others become saints ? " Happy he that 

1 " Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam." James, 
iv. 6. 

2 " Plorabunt Sacerdotes, ministri Domini, etdicent: Parce, Domine, 
parce populo tuo." Joel, ii. 17. 

3 " Plus placet Deo latratus canum, quam oratio talium clericorum." 
Corn, a Lap. in Levit. i. 17. 

4 " Attende tibi et doctrinse.." I Tim. iv. 16. 

296 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

knows Thee, even if he knows nothing else," says St. 
Augustine. 1 If we knew all sciences and knew not how 
to love Jesus Christ, our knowledge shall profit us 
nothing to eternal life. But if we know how to love 
Jesus Christ, we shall know all things, and shall be 
happy for eternity. Happy, then, the man to whom is 
given the science of the saints, that is, the science of 
loving God: She gave him the knowledge of the holy things? 
A single word from a priest who truly loves God will 
produce more fruit in others than a thousand sermons 
of the learned who love God but little. 

But this science of the saints is not acquired by the 
study of books, but by mental prayer, in which the 
master who instructs and the book that is read is a 
crucified God. Being asked one day by St. Thomas 
from what book he had acquired so much learning, St. 
Bonaventure pointed to the crucifix, and said that there 
he had acquired all his knowledge. Sometimes a person 
learns more in a moment during the time of meditation 
than he would in ten years spent in the study of books. 
" In the soul," says St. Bonaventure, " there is left, by 
the desire of unitive love, incomparably greater knowl 
edge than by study." : 

Human sciences require a good understanding; in the 
science of the saints it is enough to have a good will. 
He who loves God most ardently, knows him best. 
Love, says St. Gregory, 4 is knowledge; and according 
to St. Augustine, to love is to see. 5 David exhorts us 
to taste and see how sweet the Lord is: O taste and see 

1 " Beatus, qui te scit, etiamsi ilia nesciat." Conf. 1. 5, c. 4. 

2 " Et dedit illi scientiam sanctorum." Wisd. x. 10. 

3 " In anima incomparabiliter, per amoris unitivi desideria, perfectio 
amplioris cognitionis relinquitur, quam studendo requiratur." Myst. 
Theol. c. 3, p. 2. 

4 " Amor ipse notitia est." In Evang. horn. 27. 
* " Amarc, videre est." 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 297 

that the Lord is sweet. 1 He who tastes God most by 
loving him, sees him most clearly, and has the most 
perfect knowledge of the immensity of his goodness. 
He who tastes honey has a more correct notion of it 
than all the philosophers who study and explain its 
properties. " If," said St. Augustine, " God is wisdom, 
a true philosopher is a lover of God." * God is wisdom 
itself; then the true philosopher (by philosopher is 
meant a person who loves wisdom) is one who truly 
loves God. 

To learn worldly sciences much time and labor are 
necessary; but to learn the science of the saints it is 
enough to wish and ask for it. The wise man says that 
Wisdom . . . is easily seen by them that love her, and is 
found by them that seek her. She preventcth them that covet 
her, so that she first showeth herself to them? The divine 
wisdom is easily found by all that seek and covet her; 
she is found, even before she is sought. He thatwatcheth 
early to seek her shall not labor, for he shall find her sitting 
at his door* He who seeks her with diligence shall not 
labor to find her, for he shall find her sitting at his door 
waiting for him. Finally, Solomon concludes: Now all 
good things came to me with her 5 That is, he who finds 
wisdom, or the love of God, finds all goods. 

Oh, how much more did St. Philip Neri learn in the 
grottoes of St. Sebastian, where he spent entire nights 
in meditation, than in all the books that he had read! 
How much more did St. Jerome learn in the cave of 

1 " Gustate, et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus." Ps. xxxiii. 9. 

2 " Si sapientia Deus est, verus philosophus est arnator Dei." DC 
Civ. Dei. 1. 8, c. i. 

3 " Sapientia , . facile videtur ab his qui diligunt earn, et inveni- 
tur ab his qui quaerunt illam. Prseoccupat, qui se concupiscunt, ut illis 
se prior ostendat." Wisd. vi. 13. 

4 " Qui de luce vigilaverit ad illam, non laborabit; assidentem enim 
illam foribus suis inveniet." Ib. 15. 

5 " Venerunt autem mihi omnia bona pariter cum ilia." Jib. vii. n. 

298 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

Bethlehem than in all his studies! Father Suarez used 
to say that he would rather lose all his knowledge than 
one hour s mental prayer. " May the wise men of this 
world," says St. Paulinus, " possess their wisdom, the 
rich their riches, the kings their kingdoms. Jesus Christ 
is our wisdom, our riches, our kingdom." ] Let the 
learned of the world enjoy their wisdom, let the rich 
possess their wealth, and kings their kingdoms, but let 
Jesus Christ be our wisdom, our riches, our kingdom; 
let us say with St. Francis. " My God and my all." : 
This true wisdom we should in a special manner ask 
of God, for he will certainly give it to all who pray for 
it. If any of you want wisdom, says St. James, let him ask 
of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not. 3 
I do not deny that study is useful, and even necessary 
for priests; but the study of the crucifix is still more 
necessary. In a letter to Jovius, who devoted a great 
deal of time to the study of the works of the philoso 
phers, but through pretence of not having time, paid 
but little attention to the exercises of a spiritual life, the 
same St. Paulinus writes. " You have time to be a 
philosopher, but you have no time to be a Christian."^ 
Some priests spend so much time in the study of mathe 
matics, geometry, astronomy, and profane history (oh 
that they would at least study what is better suited to 
their state), and afterwards say that they have not time 
to make mental prayer. To them it should be said: 
" You have time to be a learned mail, but you have no 

1 " Sfbi habeant sapientiam suam philosophi, sibi divitias suas divi- 
tes, sibi regna sua reges, nobis gloria, et possessio, et regnum, Chris- 
tus est." Ep. ad Aprum. 

2 "Deus meus, etomnia!" 

3 " Si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientia, postulet a Deo, qtii dat 
omnibus affluenter, et non improperat." James, i. 5. 

4 " Vacat tibi ut philosophus sis; non vacat ut christianus sis ?" Ep. 
ad Jovium. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 299 

time to be a priest." Seneca says that we have little 
time, because we lose a great deal of it. 2 And in another 
place he says: "We are ignorant of what is necessary, 
because we learn what is superfluous." 1 

III. Others say I would wish to make mental prayer, 
but I am so much occupied in hearing confessions and 
preaching, that I have not a moment to spare. 

I answer: I praise you, dearly beloved priest, for seek 
ing the salvation of souls, but I cannot praise you for 
forgetting yourself in order to assist others. We must 
attend first to ourselves by making mental prayer, and 
then to our neighbor. The holy apostles labored more 
than all others for the salvation of souls, but finding 
that their exertions for the good of others interfered 
with prayer, they appointed deacons for the perform 
ance of the external works of charity, that thus they 
themselves might have time for prayer and the preach 
ing of the divine word: Brethren, may we appoint men over 
this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, 
and to the ministry of the word." But remark, they at 
tended first to prayer, and then to preaching; because 
without prayer sermons produce but little fruit. This 
is what St. Teresa wrote to the Bishop of Osma, who 
paid great attention to the care of his flock, but devoted 
little time to prayer. " Our Lord," says the saint in a 
letter to him, "has shown me that you are wanting in 
what is particularly necessary for you (and when the 
foundation gives way the edifice falls to ruin); you fail 
in mental prayer, and do not persevere in it; from this 
defect arises the aridity which the soul suffers." 5 St. 

1 " Vacat tibi ut eruditus sis; non vacat ut Sacerdos sis?" 

2 " Non exiguum tempus habemus, sed multum perdimus." De 
Brevit V. c. I. 

3 " Necessaria ignoramus, quia superflua addiscimus." 
4<< Fratres, viros, . . . constituamus super hoc opus. Nos vero 

orationi et ministerio verbi instantes erimus." Acts, vi. 3. 
6 Lettre 8.. 

300 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

Bernard admonished Pope Eugene not to omit medita 
tion on account of external affairs; and added, that he 
who gives up mental prayer may fall into hardness of 
heart, which will destroy all remorse for his faults, so 
that after having committed them he shall feel no 
hatred for them. 1 

St, Laurence Justinian says that the works of Martha, 
without the recollection of Mary, cannot be perfect. 8 
He deceives himself, says the saint, who expects, with 
out the aid of prayer, to succeed in the work of saving 
souls a work as dangerous as it is sublime; without the 
reflection of mental prayer, he shall certainly faint on 
the way. 3 Our Lord commanded his disciples to preach 
what they heard in prayer: That which you hear in the 
ear, preach ye upon the housetops? By the ear in this 
place is understood the ear of the heart, to which God 
promises to speak in the solitude of prayer: I will lead 
her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart? 
In -prayer, says St. Paulinus, we conceive the spirit, 
which we must afterwards communicate to others. 6 
Hence, speaking of priests, St. Bernard complained, 
that though a priest should be first a cistern, that is, full 
of holy lights and affections collected in prayer, and 
afterwards a canal to diffuse them among his neighbors, 
still there are in the Church many canals and few cis- 

1 " Timeo tibi, Eugeni, ne multitude negotiorum, intermissa oratione 
et consideratione, te ad cor durum perducat; quod seipsum non ex- 
horret, quia nee sentit." De Cons. 1. i, c. 2. 

2 " Marthae studium, absque Mariae gustu, non potest esse perfec- 

" Fallitur quisquis opus hoc periculosum, absque orationis praesidio, 
consummare se posse putat; in via deficit, si ab interna maneat refec- 
tione jejunus." De Inst. prccl. c. u. 

4 " Quod in aure auditis, praedicate super tecta." Matth. x. 27. 

5 " Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Osee, ii. 14. 

6 " In oratione fit conceptio spiritualis." E. ad Severium. 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 301 

terns. 1 Hence before a priest engages in works of charity 
to others he should have recourse to prayer, says St. 
Laurence Justinian. 2 Hence, on the passage of the Can 
ticles, Draw me; we will run after Thee in the odor of Thy 
ointments? St. Bernard has written, that the priest who has 
zeal for the salvation of souls ought to say to God: "I 
will run not alone; others shall run with me: we will 
run after Thee in the odor of Thy ointments; that is, 
we will hasten after Thee, attracted by Thy example. 4 
My God, draw me to Thyself; for drawn by Thee, I will 
run with Thee, and others also shall run with me: I shall 
run, drawn by the odor of Thy ointments; that is, by 
the inspirations and graces that I shall receive in prayer, 
others shall be drawn by my example. 

That a priest may be able to draw many souls to God, 
he must first prepare himself to be drawn by God. Such 
has been the conduct of holy workmen in God s vine 
yard of St. Dominic, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis 
Xavier, St. John Francis Regis. They employed the 
day in laboring for the people, and spent the night in 
prayer, and persevered in that holy exercise until they 
were overcome by sleep. A priest of moderate learning 
and great zeal will bring more souls to God than a great 
number of tepid though learned priests. St. Jerome 
says, " A man inflamed with zeal is sufficient to amend 
an entire people." A single word from a priest in 
flamed with holy charity will do more good than a 

1 Concham te exhibebis, non canalem. Canales hodie in Ecclesia 
multos habemus, conchas vero perpaucas." In Cant. s. 18. 

* " Difficile est proximorum lucris insistere. Priusquam hujusmodi 
studiis se tradat, orationi intendat." De Tr. Chr. Ag. c. 7. 

3 " Trahe me; post te curremus in odorem unguentorum tuorum." 
Cant. i. 3. 

4 " Non curram ego sola, current et adolescentulse mecum; curremus 
simul, ego odore unguentorum tuorum, illae meo excitatae exemplo."- 
In Cant, s. 21. 

5 " Sufficit unus homo zelo succensus totum corrigere populum." 

302 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

hundred sermons composed by a theologian who has 
but little love of God. St. Thomas of Villanova used to 
say that words of fire, which are, as it were, darts of the 
fire of divine love, are necessary to wound and "inflame 
hearts with the love of God. But how, adds the saint, 
can these darts of fire issue from a heart of snow ? It is 
meditation that inflames the heart of holy workmen in 
the vineyard of the Lord, and transforms them from 
snow into fire. Speaking especially of the love that 
Jesus Christ has borne us, the Apostle says: For the 
charity of Christ presseth us. 1 He means that it is im 
possible for any one to meditate on the sorrows and 
ignominies that our Redeemer has endured for us with 
out being inflamed, and without seeking to inflame 
others, with his love: You shall drawiswters with joy, says 
the Prophet Isaias, out of the Saviour s fountains? The 
fountains of the Saviour are the examples of the life of 
Jesus Christ, from the consideration of which souls draw 
sweet waters, lights, and holy affections; and inflamed 
with these affections, they endeavor to kindle them, also, 
in others, exhorting them to confess and praise, and love 
the goodness of our God. 

The Recitation of the Divine Office. 

(It may be useful to say something here on the reci 
tation of the divine Office.) 

By the divine Office God is honored, the fury of the 
enemy is repelled, and the divine mercies are obtained 
for sinners. But to attain these ends it is necessary to 
recite the Office in a proper manner: it is necessary to 
say it "carefully and devoutly," 3 as the fifth Council of 

1 " Charitas enim Christi urget nos." 2 Cor. v. 14. 

2 " Haurietis aquas in gaudio de fontibus Salvatoris; et dicetis indie 
ilia: Confitemini Domino, et invocate nomen ejus." Isa. xii. 3. 

3 " Studiose et devote." 

INSTR. v.] Mental Prayer. 303 

Lateran 1 has taught, in the celebrated Canon Dolentes. 
Care/idly, by pronouncing the words distinctly; devoutly, 
that is, with attention, as Cassian teaches: " Let that be 
considered in the heart which is uttered by the lips." 2 
How, asks St. Cyprian, can you expect that God will 
hear you when you do not hear yourself ? 3 Prayer made 
with attention is the odoriferous incense that is most 
agreeable to God, and obtains treasures of grace; but 
prayer made with voluntary distraction is a fetid smoke 
that provokes the divine wrath, and merits chastisement. 
Hence, while we recite the Office, the devil labors stren 
uously to make us say it with distractions and defects. 
We should, then, take all possible care to recite it in a 
proper manner. We here give some practical advice: 

1. It is necessary to enliven our faith, and to consider 
that in reciting the divine Office we unite with the 
angels in praising God. " We begin here upon earth 
the office of the inhabitants of heaven," 4 says Tertullian. 
We then perform on earth the office of the citizens of 
heaven, who unceasingly praise God, and shall praise 
him for eternity. 5 Hence, as St. John Chrysostom re 
marks, before we enter the church or take up the brevi 
ary we must leave at the door and dismiss all thoughts 
of the world. 

2. In reciting the divine Office we must take care that 
our affections accompany the sentiments contained in 
what we read. It is necessary, says St. Augustine: " We 

1 Cap. Dolentes, de Cel. Missar. 

" Hoc versatur in corde, quod profertur in voce." Ep. 211, E. B. 

" Quomodo te audiri a Deo postulas, cum te ipsc non audias ?" 
De Or. Dom. 

" Officium futurae claritatis ediscimus." De Or. 

" In saecula saeculorum laudabunt te." Ps. Ixxxiii. 5. 

" Ne quis ingrediatur templum curis onustus mundanis; hac 
ante ostium deponamus." In Is. honi. 2. 

304 Material for Instructions, [PART n. 

must pray when the Psalmist prays, sigh when he sighs, 
hope when he hopes. 1 

3. It is useful to renew our attention from time to 
time; for example, at the beginning of every psalm. 

4. We must be careful not to give occasion to mental 
distractions. How can he who recites the Office in a 
public place, or in the midst of persons who are jesting 
and amusing themselves, how, I ask, can he say it with 
piety and devotion ? 

Oh! what treasures do they lay up who daily recite 
the divine Office with devout attention ! St. John 
Chrysostom says that they are filled with the Holy 
Ghost. 2 But, on the other hand, they who say it negli 
gently lose great merits, and have to render a great 
account to God.* 

1 " Si oral Psalmus, orate; si gemit, gemite; si sperat, sperate." 
In Ps. xxx. en. 4. 

2 " Implentur Spiritu Sancto." In Eph. horn. 19. 

* We may see a more extended instruction on the recitation of the 
Office in the True Spouse of Jesiis Christ, Ch. 24, Vol. XI., page 189. 
We may also find a short treatise on the same subject at the end of 
the next volume (Volume XIII.). ED. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 305 



Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart? 
Humility and meekness were the two beloved virtues of 
Jesus Christ, in which he wished in a special manner to 
be imitated by his disciples. We shall speak first of 
humility, and afterwards of meekness. 

Necessity of Humility. 

St. Bernard says, "The higher one is placed, the hum 
bler one should be." 2 The more exalted, then, the 
dignity of the priest, the greater should be his humil 
ity; otherwise, if he fall into sin, the greater the height 
from which he is precipitated, the more disastrous his 
fall. Hence St. Laurence Justinian says that the priest 
should regard humility as the most precious jewel that 
shines forth in his character. 3 And St. Augustine writes: 
"The highest honor should be united with the greatest 
humility." 4 And before him, Jesus Christ said, He that 
is the greater among you, let him become as the younger? 
Humility is truth. Hence the Lord has said, that if we 

" Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde." -Matth. xi. 29. 

2 " Tanto quisque debet esse humilior, quanto est sublimior." De 
7 Donis Sp. S. 

3 " Humilitas est Sacerdotum gemma." De lust, prccl. c 21. 

4 " In summo honore summa tibi sit humilitas." De Virt. et Vit. 
c. 10. 

5 " Qui major est in vobis, fiat sicut minor." Luke xxii. 26. 


306 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

know how to separate the precious from the vile, that 
is, what belongs to God from what belongs to ourselves, 
we should be like his mouth, which always speaks truth: 
If thou wilt separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be 
as My mouth. 1 Hence we must always pray with St. 
Augustine: "O Lord, may I know Thee, may I know 
myself!" 5 St. Francis of Assisi, admiring in God his 
greatness and goodness, and in himself his own un- 
worthiness and misery, used to say continually to the 
Lord: "Who art Thou, and who am I?" Hence the 
saints at the sight of the infinite perfections of God 
humble themselves to the very, earth. The more they 
know God, the better they see their own poverty and 
defects. The proud, because they are bereft of light, 
have but little knowledge of their own vileness. 

Let us, then, continue to separate what is ours from 
what belongs to God. Ours is nothing but misery and 
sin. And what are we but a little fetid dust, infected 
by sin ? How, then, can we be proud ? Why is earth ana 
ashes proud?* Nobility, wealth, talent, ability, and the 
other gifts of nature, are but a garment placed over a 
poor mendicant. If you saw a beggar glorying in an 
embroidered garment thrown over him, would you not 
pronounce him to be a fool ? What hast thou that thou 
hast not received ? And if thou hast received, why dost thou 
glory as if thou hadst not received it?* Have we anything 
that God has not bestowed upon us, or that he cannot 
take away whenever he pleases ? The gifts of grace 
that God confers upon us also belong to him, and we 
contaminate them by so many defects, distractions, acts 

1 " Si separaveris pretiosum a vili, quasi os meum eris." -Jer. xv. 

2 " Noverim me, noverim te." SoH l. 1. 2, c. i. 

3 " Quid superbit terra et cinis ?" Ecclus. x. 9. 

4 " Quid autem habes, quod non accepisti ? Si autem accepisti, 
quid gloriaris, quasi non acceperis ?" i Cor. iv. 7. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 307 

of impatience, and inordinate motives, All our justices are 
as the rag of a menstruous woman. 1 Thus, after having 
said our Masses, Offices, and prayers, though perhaps 
we esteem ourselves more enlightened and rich in 
merits, we deserve from the Lord the reproof which he 
gave to the bishop in the Apocalypse: Because thou 
sayest : I am rick, . . . and knowest not that thou art 
wretched, and miser able, and poor, and blind, and naked? St. 
Bernard writes: " What we need in fervor we should 
supply by an humble acknowledgment of our misery." 3 
If we know that we are poor and full of faults in the 
sight of God, let us at least humble ourselves and con 
fess our miseries. St. Francis Borgia, while a secular, 
was advised by a holy man, if he wished to make great 
progress in virtue, to reflect every day on his own mis 
eries. Hence the saint spent every day the first two 
hours of prayer in endeavoring to know and despise 
himself. He thus became a saint, and has left us so 
many beautiful examples of humility. 

St. Augustine says: "God is the supremebeing: humble 
thyself and he will descend to thee; but if thou raisest thy 
self he will flee from thee." To the humble, God unites 
himself and gives the treasures of his graces; but from 
the proud he withdraws and flies away: Every proud man 
is an abomination to the Lord? The proud man is an 
abomination to the Lord. God, says St. James, resisteth 
the proud and giveth grace to the humble.* The Lord hears 

"Quasi pannus menstruatse, universae justitiae nostrae." Isa. lxiv.6. 
"Dicis: Quod dives sum; et nescis quia tu es miser, et miser- 
abilis, et csecus, et nudus." Apoc. iii. 17. 

3 " Quidquid minus est in te fervoris, humilitas supplebit confessi- 
onis." De Int. Domo, c. 21. 

4 " Altus est Deus. Erigis te, et fugit a te; humilias-te, et descendit 
ad te." Serrn. 177, E. B. app. 

5 " Abominatio Domini est omnis arrogans." Prov. xvi. 5. 

b "Deus superbis resistit; humilibus autem dat gratiam." -fames, 
iv. 6. 

308 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

the prayers of the humble. The prayer of him that humbLeth 
himself shall pierce the clouds, . . . and he will not depart till 
the Most High behold, 1 But, on the other hand, he rejects 
the petitions of the proud: He resisteth the proud. He 
looks at the proud as from a distance. The Lord . . . 
looketh on the low, and the high He knoweth afar off? When 
we see a person at a distance, we know him not; thus 
God feigns, as it were, not to know nor to hear the 
proud when they pray to him. They call upon him, but 
he answers: Amen, I say to you, I know you not? In a word, 
the proud are hateful to God and to men. Pride, says 
Ecclesiasticus, is hateful before God and men." Men are 
sometimes compelled by necessity to pay external honor 
to the proud; but in their heart they hate them, and 
censure them before others. Where pride is, said Solo 
mon, there also shall be reproach? 

Praising the humility of St. Paul, St. Jerome writes: 
" As the shadow follows him who flies from it, and flies 
from him who pursues it, so glory follows them who fly 
from it, and flies from them who seek it." e Our Lord 
says: Whosoever shall exalt -himself shall be humbled, and 
he that shall humble himself shall be exalted? A priest, for 
example, does a good work; he is silent about it, but 
as soon as it is known, all praise him. But if he goes 
about proclaiming it to others, in order to receive ap- 

1 " Oratio humiliantis se nubes penetrabit; . . . et non discedet, 
donee Altissimus aspiciat." Ecclus. xxxv. 21. 

2 " Excelsus Dominus, et humilia respicit; et alta a longe cognoscit." 
Ps. cxxxvii. 6. 

3 "Amen dico vobis, nescio vos." Matth. xxv. 12. 

4 " Odibilis coram Deo est et hominibus superbia." Ecchis. x. 7. 

5 " Ubi fuerit superbia, ibi erit et contumelia." Prov. xi. 2. 

6 " Fugiendo gloriam, gloriam merebatur, quse virtutem quasi umbra 
sequitur, et, appetitores sui deserens, appetit contemptores." Ep. ad 

7 "Qui autem se exaltaverit, humiliabitur; et qui se humiHaverit. 
exaltabitur." Matth. xxiii. 12. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 309 

plause, he shall earn reproach instead of praise. What 
a shame, says St. Gregory, to see the teachers of humil 
ity become by their example teachers of pride!. 1 You 
may say, I manifest my works to make known the truth, 
and to procure praise for the Lord; but I answer in the 
words of Seneca: " He that cannot keep silence about 
the thing itself will not be silent about the author." 8 
Every one who hears a priest speaking of his good 
works will suppose that he relates them in order to be 
praised; thus he shall lose the esteem of men and merit 
before God, who seeing him praised according to his 
desire, will say to him what he said to the hypocrites in 
the synagogue: Amen, I say unto you, they have received their 
reward? The Lord has declared that three species of 
sinners he hates with a special hatred, and that the first 
is a poor man that is proud. Three sorts my soul hateth, 
and I am greatly grieved at their life: a poor man that is 
troudj a rich man that is a liar; and an old man that is a 

The Practice of Humility. 

But let us come to the practice of humility. Let us 
examine what we must do in order to be humble, not in 
name, but in reality. 


In the first place, it is necessary to entertain a great 
fear of the vice of pride; for, as has been already said, 
God resists the proud, and deprives them of his graces. 
A priest, particularly, in order to preserve chastity, stands 

1 " Doctores humilium, duces superbiae \"Ep. 1. 4, ep, 32. 
a " Qui rem non tacuerit, non tacebit auctorem." Ep. 105. 

3 " Amen dico vobis, receperunt mercedem suam." Matth. vi. 2. 

4 " Tres species odivit anima mea: . . . pauperem superbum, divi- 
tem mendacem, senem fatuum." Ecclus. xxv. 3. 

3IO Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

in need of a special aid from God. But how can a proud 
priest practise that sublime virtue if in punishment of 
his pride the Lord withholds his assistance ? Pride, says 
the Wise Man, is a sign of approaching ruin. The spirit is 
lifted up before a fall? Hence St. Augustine has gone so 
far as to say that it is in a certain manner useful to the 
proud to fall into some manifest sin, that thus they may 
learn humility and a horror of themselves. 2 This is what 
happened to David, who, as he himself afterwards con 
fessed with tears, fell into adultery because he was not 
humble: Before I was humbled, I offended? St. Gregory 
calls pride the seminary of impurity; because some, 
while they are exalted by the spirit of pride, are precipi 
tated into hell by the flesh. 4 The spirit of pride easily 
brings with it the spirit of impurity. The spirit of forni 
cation, says the Prophet Osee, is in the midst of them, . . . 
and the pride of Israel shall answer in his face. 5 Ask certai n 
persons why they always fall back into the same im 
purities; pride shall answer for them, that it is the cause 
of their relapses: they are full of self-esteem, and there- 
the Lord chastises them by permitting them to remain 
immersed in their abominations, a chastisement which, 
as the Apostle says, has already fallen on the wise of the 
world: God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto 
uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves? 

1 " Contritionem praecedit superbia; et ante ruinam, exaltatur 
spiritus." Prov. xvi. 18. 

2 " Audeo dicere, superbis esse utile cadere in aliquod apertum pec- 
catum, unde sibi displiceant." De Civ. D. 1. 14, c. 13. 

3 " Priusquam humiliarer, ego deliqui." Ps. cxviii. 67. 

4 " Multis saepe superbia luxuriae seminarium fuit; quia, dum eos 
spiritus quasi in altum erexit, caro in infimis mersit." Mor. 1. 26, 
c. 12. 

5 "Spiritus fornicationum in medio eorum. . . . Et respondebit 
arrogantia Israel in facie ejus." Osee, v. 4. 

6 " Propter quod tradidit illos Deus in desideria cordis eorum, in 
immunditiam, ut contumeliis afficiant corpora sua in semelipsis." 
Rom. i. 24. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 3 1 1 

The devil has no fear of the proud. Cesarius relates 1 
that a demoniac being once brought to a Cistercian 
monastery, the prior took with him a young religious 
who had the reputation of being a man of great virtue, 
and said to the evil spirit: If this monk shall command 
you to depart, will you dare to remain ? I have no fear 
of him, replied the enemy, because he is proud. St. 
Joseph Calasanctius used to say that the devil treats a 
proud priest as a play-toy; that is, he throws him up and 
pulls him down as he pleases. 

Hence the saints have had a greater dread of pride 
and vainglory than of any temporal calamity that could 
befall them. Surius 2 relates of a holy man who was 
greatly esteemed and honored on account of the miracles 
that he wrought, that finding himself often assailed by 
vainglory, he besought the Lord that he might be pos 
sessed by an evil spirit; his prayer was heard, and he 
was possessed for five months. He was then delivered 
from the infernal spirit, and from the spirit of vanity 
that molested him. For this purpose the Lord also per 
mits even saints to be tormented by temptations against 
purity, and after they pray to be freed from them, he 
leaves them as he left St. Paul, to combat with the temp 
tations. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt 
me, there was given me a sting of tJie flesh, an angel of Satan 
to buffet me. For which thing I thrice besought the Lord, that 
it might depart from me. And He said to me: My grace is 
sufficient for thee ; for power is made perfect in infirmity? 
Thus, according to St, Jerome, a sting of the flesh was 
given to St. Paul to warn him to be humble: " To remind 

1 Dial. 1. 4, c. 5. 

2 8 Jan. V. S. Sever. 

8 " Et ne magnitude revelationum extollat me, datus est mihi sti 
mulus carnis mese, angelus Satanse, qui me colaphizet. Propter quod 
ter Dominum rogavi, ut discederet a me; et dixit mihi: Sufficit tibi 
gratia mea; nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. " 2 Cor. xii. 7. 

3 1 2 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

him of human misery, and to make him humble in the 
sublimity of his revelations." Hence St. Gregory con 
cludes: " To preserve chastity in all its splendor we must 
place it under the care of humility." 2 Let us here make 
another reflection. To humble the pride of the people 
of Egypt, the Lord sent not bears and lions, but frogs to 
molest them. What do I mean ? God permits us to be 
annoyed by certain little expressions, by certain little 
aversions, by certain trifles, that we may know our 
miseries and may humble ourselves. 


Secondly, it is necessary to guard against glorying in 
any good that we may do, particularly if we are raised 
to the height of the priesthood. The offices intrusted 
to us are very great. To us is given the great office of 
offering to God the sacrifice of his own Son. To us is 
confided the care of reconciling sinners with God, by 
preaching, and by the administration of the sacraments: 
He hath given to its the ministry of reconciliation? We are 
ambassadors and vicars of Jesus Christ, and are made 
the tongues of the Holy Ghost: For Christ therefore we 
are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us? St. Jerome 
says that the highest mountains are most violently as 
sailed by the tempest: the more exalted, then, is our 
dignity, the more we are exposed to the molestation of 
vainglory. We are esteemed by all, we are respected as 
men of learning, and as saints. He who stands on a 
great height is in danger of dizziness. 

" Ad revelationum humiliandam superbiam, monitor quidam huma- 
nse imbecillitatis apponitur." Ep. ad Paulam. 

2 "Per humilitatis custodiam servanda est munditia castitatis." 
Mor. \. 26, c. ii. 

" Dedit nobis ministerium reconciliationis." 2 Cor. v. 18. 
4 "Pro Christo ergo legatione fungimur, tamquam Deo exhortante 
per nos." //;. 20. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 3 1 3 

How many priests have fallen into precipices because 
they were not humble! Montanus w r rought miracles, 
and he afterwards through ambition became a heresi- 
arch. Tatian wrote at great length and with great suc 
cess against the pagans, and through pride he fell into 
heresy. Brother Justin, a Franciscan, attained the high 
est degree of contemplation, and he afterwards died an 
apostate from religion, and was lost. In the life of Pale- 
mon we read that a certain monk walked on fire and 
boasted of it, saying to his companions, Which of you 
can walk on red-hot coals without being burnt? St. 
Palemon corrected him, but the unhappy man, being full 
of himself, fell into sin, and died in that miserable state. 

A proud spiritual man is the worst of robbers; because 
he usurps not earthly goods, but the glory of God. 
Hence, St. Francis was accustomed to say: Lord! if Thou 
givest any good, watch over it; otherwise I will steal it 
from Thee. Thus we priests must pray, and say with 
St, Paul: By the grace of God I am what la///. 1 For of 
ourselves we are incapable not only of doing good 
works, but of even having a good thought: Not that we 
are sufficient to thinking anything of ourselves? 

Hence the Lord says to us: When you shall have done 
all these things that are commanded you, say: IVe are unprofit 
able servants: we have done that which we ought to do? Of 
what use can all our works be to God ? What need can 
he have of our possessions ? / have said to the Lord, said 
David, Thou art my God, for Thou hast no need of my goods? 
And Job said: If thou do justly, . . . what sJiall Jic receive 

" Gratia autem Dei sum id quod sum." i Cor, xv. 10. 

2 " Non quod sufficientes simus cogitare aliquid a nobis." 2. Cor. 
iii. 5- 

3 "Cum feceritis omnia quae praecepta sunt vobis, dicite: Servi inu- 
tiles sumus; quod debuimus facere, fecimus." Luke, xvii. 10. 

4 " Deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges." Ps. 
xv. 2. 

314 Material for Instructions. LPART n. 

of Thy hand. 1 What can God receive from you to increase 
his riches? Moreover, we are useless servants, because 
however much we do for a God who merits infinite love, 
and has suffered so much for the love of us, it is all 
nothing. Hence the Apostle writes: If I preach the 
Gospel, it is no glory to me, for a necessity licth upon me? To 
all that we do for God we are bound by our obligations 
and by gratitude; particularly as all that we do is his 
work more than it is ours. Who would not laugh at the 
clouds, if they boasted of the rain that they send down ? 
This is the language of St. Bernard. 3 He then adds, 
that we ought to praise, not so much the saints for the 
works that they perform, as God who operates through 
them. 4 St. Augustine says the same: "Every good 
thing, large or small, is a gift of God : from ourselves 
comes what is bad." J And in another .place, speaking 
to God, he writes: "Whoever enumerates to Thee Thy 
merits, does he enumerate to Thee anything but Thy 
merits?" 6 

Hence, when we do any good, we must say to the Lord: 
We have given TJiee what we received of TJiy hand." 1 When 
St. Teresa performed any good work, or saw a good act 
done by others, she began to praise God for it, saying 
that it was entirely his work. Hence, St. Augustine 
remarks, that unless humility go before, pride will steal 

1 " Si juste egeris, quid donabis ei, aut quid de manu tua accipiet?" 
Job, xxxv. 7. 

2 "Si evangelizavero. non est mihi gloria; necessitas enim mihi in- 
cumbit." i Cor. ix. 16. 

3 "Si glorientur nubes, quod imbres genuerint, quis non irrideat?" 
In Cant. s. 13. 

4 " Laudo Deum in sanctis suis, qui, in ipsis manens, ipse facit 
opera." Ibid. 

5 "Si quid boni est, parvum vel magnum, donum tuum est; et 
nostrum non est nisi malum." Solil. an. ad D. c. 15. 

6 " Quisquis tibi enumerat merita sua, quid tibi enumerat, nisi 
munera tua?" Conf. 1. 9, c. 13. 

1 " Quae de manu tua accepimus, dedimus tibi." i Par. xxix. 14. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 3 1 5 

from us all the good we do. 1 And in another place he 
says: "Pride lays snares for good works that they may 
be lost." 2 St. Joseph Calasanctius used to say, that the 
more God favors a soul by special graces, the more she 
ought to humble herself that she may not lose all. All 
is lost by every little consent to self-esteem. He, says 
St. Gregory, who performs many virtuous actions, but 
has not humility, is like a man who scatters dust before 
the wind. 3 Trithemius has written: " Thou hast despised 
others: thou art become worse than others." 4 

The saints have not only not boasted of any perfec 
tion, but have sought to make known to others what 
redounded to their own contempt. Father Villanova, 
of the Society of Jesus, felt no repugnance to tell all 
that his brother was a poor workman. Father Sacchini, 
also a Jesuit, meeting in a public place his father, who 
was a poor muleteer, ran to embrace him, and said: 
"Oh, behold my father!" Let us read the lives of the 
saints, and pride ^shall depart from us: there we shall 
find the great things that they have done, at the sight 
of which we shall feel ashamed of the little we have 


Thirdly, it is necessary to live in contiriual distrust of 
ourselves. Unless God assists us, we shall not be able 
to preserve ourselves in his grace: Unless the Lord keep the 
city, he watcheth in vain that keepetJi it? If God work not in 
us, we shall be unable to do any good: Unless the Lord 

1 " Nisi humilitas praecesserit, totum extorquet de manu superbia." 
Ep. 1 1 8, E. B. 

2 "Superbia bonis operibus insidiatur, ut pereant." Ib. 211. 

3 " Qui sine humilitate virtutes congregat, quasi in ventum pulverem 
portat." In Ps. pcenit. 3. 

4 " Caeteros contempsisti; caeteris pejor factus es." 

5 " Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilat, qui custodit 
earn." Ps. cxxvi. I. 

3 1 6 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

build the house, they labor in vain that build it. 1 Some saints, 
with very moderate learning, have converted entire na 
tions. By certain discourses that he preached in Rome, 
though the language was simple, and even incorrect 
(for he had but an imperfect knowledge of the Italian 
tongue), St. Ignatius of Loyola, because his words came 
from a heart that was humble and enamoured of God, 
produced such an effect on the hearers that they instant 
ly went to confession, but could scarcely speak on ac 
count of the many tears that they shed. 2 But, on the 
other hand, many learned theologians, with all their 
science and eloquence, preach without converting a 
single soul. In them are verified the words of the 
Prophet Osee: Give them a womb without children, and dry 
breasts? Such preachers, because they are puffed up with 
their learning, resemble unfruitful mothers, they have 
the name, but are without children. And should they 
be intrusted with the child of another, with an infant 
that stands in need of milk, the little one shall die of 
hunger, for the paps of the proud are filled with wind 
and smoke, but give no milk: Knowledge puff eth up* To 
this evil the proud are subject. It is, as Cardinal Bel- 
larmine wrote to one of his nephews, difficult for a man 
of learning to be humble, not to despise others, not to 
censure their acts, not to be full of his own opinions; he 
will hardly submit willingly to the judgment and cor 
rection of others. 

It is true that we ought not to preach at random, or 
without consideration and study; but after we have 
studied the discourse, and after we have delivered it 
with zeal and success, we ought to say: We are unprofit- 

1 " Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum, in vanum laboraverunt, qui 
sedificant earn." Ps. cxxvi. i. 
8 Ribadeneira, Vit. 1. 3, c. 2. 

3 " Da eis vulvam sine liberis et ubera arentia." Osee, ix. 14. 

4 "Scientia inflat." I Cor. viii. i. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 3 1 7 

able servants, 1 and should expect the fruit, not from our 
own labors, but from the hands of God. And what 
proportion can there ever be between our words and the 
conversion of sinners ? Shall the axe boast itself against 
him that cutteth with it J* Can the axe say to him who 
fells the tree: This tree I, and not you, have cut down? 
We are like so many pieces of iron, incapable even of 
motion, unless God moves us: Without Me, you cati do 
nothing? On this passage St. Augustine writes: "The 
Lord does not say, Without me you can do but little, 
but he says, Without me you can do nothing." 4 And 
the Apostle has said: Not that we are sufficient to think any 
thing of ourselves? If we are incapable of having even a 
good thought of ourselves, how much less shall we be 
able to perform a good action ! Neither he that planteth is 
anything, nor he that water eth: but God that giveth the increase? 
It is neither the preacher, nor the confessor who exhorts 
them, that makes souls advance in virtue: no, it is God 
that does all. " Let us," says St. John Chrysostom, " call 
ourselves useless servants, that we may be made useful." 7 
Whenever, then, we are praised, let us instantly give the 
honor to God, saying: To the only God be honor and glory? 
And when any office or work is given us by obedience, 
let us not be diffident at the sight of our inability, but 
let us have confidence in God, who speaks to us by the 

1 " Servi inutiles sumus." 

8 " Numquid gloriabitur securis contra eum qui secat in ea?" Isa. 
x. 15. 

3 "Sine me nihil potestis facere." John, xv. 5. 

4 " Non ait, quia sine me parum potestis facere, sed nihil." In Jo. 
tr. 81. 

5 "Non quod sufficientes simus cogitare aliquid a nobis." 2 Cor. 
iii. 5. 

6 " Neque qui plantat, est aliquid, neque qui rigat, sed qui incre- 
mentum dat, Deus." I Cor. iii. 7. 

7 " Nos dicamus inutiles, ut utiles efficiamur." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 38. 

8 " Soli Deo honor et gloria." i 7V;//. i. 17. 

3 1 8 Material for Instructions. [PART IT. 

mouth of our Superior, and says to us: I will be in thy 
mouth. 1 

Gladly, says the Apostle, will I glory in my infirmities, 
that the power of Christ may dwell in me? We, too, should 
say the same: we should glory in the knowledge of our 
insufficiency, that thus we may acquire the power of 
Jesus Christ, that is, holy humility. Oh, what great 
things do the humble effect ! " Nothing," says St. Leo, 
"is difficult to the humble." 3 No, for the humble, 
trusting in God, act with the strength of the divine 
arm, ani therefore they effect whatsoever they wish. 
They that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength* St. 
Joseph Calasanctius used to say, that the man who 
wishes that God should make him do great things 
must labor to be the most humble of all. The humble 
man says: I can do all things in Him who strengthened me? 
When he finds an undertaking difficult, he does not 
lespair of success, but says: Through God we shall do 
mightily? Jesus Christ did not wish to select men of 
power and learning for the conversion of the world, but 
poor ignorant fishermen, because they were humble, and 
distrustful of their own strength. The weak things of the 
world hath God chosen that He may confound the strong. . . . 
That all flesh should not. glory in His sight? 

Even when we see that we are subject to defects we 
must not be diffident. Though we should relapse into 
the same faults after many purposes, and many promises 

1 " Ego ero in ore tuo." Exod. iv. 15. 

2 " Libenter igitur gloriabor in infirmitadbus meis, ut inhabitet in 
me virtus Christi." i Cor. xii. 9. 

3 " Nihil arduum est humilibus." De Epiph. s. 5. 

4 " Qui autem sperant in Domino, mutabunt fortitudinem." Isa,. 
xl. 31. 

5 " Omnia possum in eo, qui me confortat." Phil. iv. 13. 

6 " In Deo faciemus virtutem." Ps. lix. 14. 

7 " Infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia, . . . ut non 
glorietur omnis caro in conspectu ejus." i Cor. i. 27. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 


made to God, we should not abandon ourselves to diffi 
dence, as the devil tempts us to do, in order to precipi 
tate us into greater sins; but we must then, more than 
ever, trust in God s goodness, making use of our failings 
to increase our confidence in the divine mercy. Thus 
we are to understand the words of the Apostle: All things 
work together unto good. 1 The Gloss adds: Even sins. 9 
Hence our Lord sometimes permits us to fall or to re 
lapse into a defect, that thus we may learn to distrust 
ourselves, and to confide only in the divine aid. Hence 
David said: It is good for me that Thou hast humbled vie? 
Lord, Thou hast permitted these my faults for my good, 
that I may learn to be humble. 


Fourthly, to acquire humility, it is, above all, neces 
sary to accept humiliations that come to us from God 
and from men, and in the time of humiliation to say 
with Job: I have sinned, and indeed I have offended, and I 
have not received what I deserved? Some, as St. Gregory 5 
remarks, say with the tongue that they are sinners, that 
they are wicked, and deserving of every species of con 
tempt; but they do not believe what they say, for 
when despised or reproved by others they are disturbed. 
"Many," says St. Ambrose in a letter to Constance, 
"have the appearance of humility, but not the virtue of 
humility. " Cassian 7 relates that a certain monk, who 
used to protest that he was a great sinner, and unworthy 
of living on earth, was corrected by .the abbot Serapion 

" Omnia cooperantur in bonum." Rom. viii. 28. 
2 " Etiam peccata." 

" Bonum mihi- quia humiliasti me." Ps. cxviii. 71. 

"Peccavi et vere deliqui, et, ut eram dignus, non recepi." -Job, 
xxxiii. 27. 

5 Mor. 1. 22, c. 14. 

"Multihabenthumilitatisspeciem, virtutem nonhabent." Ep. 44. 
1 Collat. 1 8, c. ii. 

320 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

for a considerable fault, which consisted in going about 
idly to the cells of the other monks instead of remaining 
in his own, according to his rule. The monk became 
instantly agitated, so as to manifest externally the dis 
turbed state of his interior. The abbot said to him: 
" My son, hitherto you have declared that you deserved 
nothing but opprobrium, and why are you now so in 
dignant at a word of charity that I have said to you ?" 
The same happens to many who would wish to be 
esteemed humble, but are unwilling to suffer any 
humiliation. There is, says Ecclesiasticus, one who hum- 
bleth himself wickedly, and his interior is full of deceit. 1 
St. Bernard has said that to seek praise from humility 
is not humility, but the destruction of humility. 2 To 
seek praise from humility only foments pride by the 
desire of being reputed humble. He who is truly 
humble has a low opinion of himself, and wishes others 
to think of him as he thinks himself. " He is humble," 
says St. Bernard, " who converts humiliations into 
humility." : The truly humble man, when treated with 
contempt, humbles himself still more, and acknowledges 
that he justly deserves the humiliation. 

Finally, let us bear in mind that unless we are humble 
we shall not only do no good, but we shall not be saved. 
Unless you . . . become as little children, you shall not enter 
into the kingdom of heaven." In order, then, to enter into 
the kingdom of heaven, we must become children, not 
in age, but in humiljty. St. Gregory says that as pride 
is a sign of reprobation, so humility is a mark of pre- 

1 " Est qui nequiter humiliat se, et interiora ejus plena sunt dolo." 
Ecclus. xix. 23. 

2 "Appetere de humilitate laudem, humilitatis est, non virtus, sed 
subversio." In Cant. s. 16. 

3 " Est humilis, qui humiliationem convertit in humilitatem." Ib. 
s. 34. 

4 "Nisi conversi fueritis, et efficiamini sicut parvuli non intrabitis 
in regnum coelorum." Matth. xviii. 3. 

INSTR. vi.] Humility. 321 

destination. 1 And St. James has wrftten, that God re- 
sisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble? From the 
proud God withholds his graces, but to the humble he 
opens his hand and dispenses his favors. Be humble, 
says Ecclesiasticus, and expect from the hands of God 
as many graces as you desire. Humble thyself to God, 
and wait for His hands? And our Saviour has said: 
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling 
into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it 
bringeth forth much fridt? A priest who dies to self- 
love shall produce great fruit; but -he who dies not to 
himself, and resents insults or trusts in his own talents, 
remaineth alone : he remains alone, and will produce no 
fruit for himself or others. 

1 " Reproborum signum superbia est; at contra, humilitas electo- 
rum." Mor. 1. 34, c. 22. 

2 " Deus superbis resistit; humilibus autem dat gratiam." -James, 
iv. 6. 

3 " Humiliate Deo, exspecta manus ejus." Ecclus. xiii. 9. 

4 "Amen, amen, dico vobis: nisi granum frumenti cadens in 
terram, mortuum fuerit, ipsurh solum manet; si autem mortuum 
fuerit, multum fructum affert." John, xii. 24. 


322 Material for Instructions. [FARTII. 



Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart? 
Meekness is the virtue of the lamb: lamb is the name 
by which Jesus Christ wished to be called: Behold the 
Lamb of God? Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the ruler of the 
earth? And like a lamb he conducted himself in his 
Passion. He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, 
and he shall not open his mouth? As a meek lamb that is car 
ried to be a victim? Meekness was the beloved virtue of 
the Saviour. He showed the extent of his meekness in 
doing good to the ungrateful, in submitting sweetly to 
his enemies, and in bearing without complaint all that 
insulted and maltreated him. Who, when He was reviled, 
did not revile : when He suffered, He threatened not, but de 
livered Himself to him who judged Him unjustly? After 
being scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with 
spittle, nailed to a cross, and saturated with opprobrium, 
he forgot all, and prayed for those that had thus mal 
treated him. Hence he has exhorted us, above all 
things, to learn from his example humility and meek 
ness. Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart? 

1 " Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde." Matth. xi. 29. 
- " Ecce Agnus Dei." John, i. 29. 

3 " Emitte Agnum, Domine, dominatorem terrae." Isa. xvi. i. 

4 "Quasi agnus coram tondente se, obmutescet, et non aperiet os 
suum." Ib, liii. 7. 

5 "Quasi agnus mansuetus qui portatu-r ad victimam." Jcr. xi. 19. 
6 "Qui, cum malediceretur, non maledicebat; cum pateretur, non 

comminabatur." i Pet. ii. 23. 

7 " Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde." 

INSTR. vii.] Meekness. 323 

St. John Chrysostom says that meekness is, of all vir 
tues, that which renders us most like to God. 1 Yes, for 
it belongs only to God to render good for evil. Hence 
the Redeemer has said: Do good to them that hate you, . . . 
that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven? 
Hence, according to St. John Chrysostom, Jesus Christ 
has called the meek imitators of God. 3 

To the meek, paradise is promised. Blessed are the 
meek, for they shall possess the land. St. Francis de Sales 
says that meekness is the flower of charity. 5 And Eccle- 
siasticus has said: That which is agreeable to Him is faith 
and meekness! A meek and faithful heart is the delight 
of God. He knows not how to cast off the meek. The 
Lord lifted up the meek} The prayers of the humble and 
meek are very pleasing in the sight of God. The prayer 
of the humble and the meek hath always pleased Thee? 

The virtue of meekness consists in two things: i. In 
restraining the motions of passion against those that 
provoke us to anger; and, 2d, In bearing insults. 


We must Repress Anger. 

With regard to the first, St. Ambrose says that the 
passion of anger ought to be either avoided or restrained. 9 

1 " Mansuetudo prse cseteris virtutibus nos Deo conformes facit." 
In Rom. horn. 19. 

2 " Benefacite his qui oderunt vos, . . . ut sitis filii Patris vestri 
qui in coelis est, qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos." 
Matth. v. 44. 

3 "Eos solos qui mansuetudine conspicui sunt, Dei imitatores 
Christus nominat." Serm. de Mansuetud. 

4 " Beati mites, quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram." Matth. v. 4. 

5 " Introd. p. 3, ch. 8. 

"Quod beneplacitum est illi, fides et mansuetudo." Ecclus. i. 34. 

7 " Suscipiens mansuetos Dominus." Ps. cxlvi. 6. 

8 " Humilium et mansuetorum semper tibi placuit deprecatio." 
Judith, ix. 16. 

9 "Caveatur iracundia, aut cohibeatur." Offic. 1. i, c. 21. 

324 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

He who feels himself prone to the vice of anger should 
endeavor to avoid the occasions of it; and should he 
through necessity be exposed to them, he ought to pre 
pare himself beforehand by good resolutions either to 
be silent, to answer with sweetness, or to pray to God 
for strength to resist the temptation, and not to yield to 
passion. Some excuse themselves by saying such a 
person is very impertinent, his conduct is insufferable. 
But, according to St. John Chrysostom, the virtue of 
meekness consists not in being agreeable to the meek, 
but in treating with sweetness those that know not 
what meekness is. 1 When a neighbor is enraged there 
is no better means of appeasing his anger than by 
answering with sweetness. A mild answer breaketh 
wrath? As water extinguishes fire, so, says St. John 
Chrysostom, a mild answer softens the anger of a brother, 
however great may be his excitement. 3 This is con 
formable to the words of Ecclesiasticus: A sweet word 
multiplieth friends and appeaseth enemies? St. John Chrys 
ostom adds: "We cannot extinguish fire by fire." 
Even towards sinners the most abandoned, obstinate, 
and insolent we priests must exercise all possible meek 
ness in order to draw them to God. Hugh of St. Victor 
has written: " You must know the faults, not to punish 
them, but the diseases to heal them. " When, on the 
other hand, we feel ourselves assailed by any motion of 

1 "Cum his qui sunt a mansuetudine alienissimi, tune virtus osten- 
ditur." In Ps. 119. 

2 " Responsio mollis frangit iram." Prov, xv. I. 

3 " Sicut rogum accensum aqua exstinguit, ita animam ira sestu- 
antem verbum cum mansuetudine prolatum mitigat." /;/ Gen. horn. 

4 "Verbum dulce multiplicat amicos, et mitigat inimicos." Ecclus. 
vi. 5. 

5 " Igne non potest ignis exstingui, nee furor furore." 

6 " Vos non, quasi judices criminum, ad percutiendum positi estis 
sed, quasi judices morborum, ad sanandum." Misc. 1. I, ///. 49. 

INSTR. vii.] Meekness. 325 

anger, the remedy is to be silent, and to ask strength 
from God not to make a reply. " The best remedy," 
says Seneca, " is in delay, 1 for should we speak while 
we are inflamed with passion, what we say will appear 
reasonable, but it will be unjust and sinful. For passion 
is a certain veil that covers the eyes of the soul, and 
does not permit us to see the unreasonableness of our 
reply. " The eye disturbed by anger cannot see," says 
St. Bernard. 2 Sometimes it appears to us just, and 
even necessary, to repress the boldness of a person who 
treats us with insolence: for example, of an inferior 
who acts disrespectfully towards us. It would indeed 
be right in such circumstances to show moderate dis 
pleasure; to be, as the angelic Doctor says, angry ac 
cording to right reason. 3 This is conformable to the 
words of David: Be ye angry, and sin not? This would 
be right if in such anger there were no fault on our 
part; but in this consists the difficulty. To leave one s 
self in the hand of anger is a very dangerous thing: 
you might as well mount a furious horse that refuses to 
obey the bit, and carries you wheresoever he pleases. 
Hence St. Francis de Sales, in the Devout Life, 5 says 
that however just the reason of our anger, it is always 
expedient to restrain it; and that it is better for you to 
have it said that you are never angry than that you are 
wisely angry. When, says St. Augustine, 6 anger has 
entered the soul, it is difficult to expel it. Hence he 
exhorts us in the beginning to close the gate that anger 
may not enter. When a person who is corrected sees 
his Superior in a passion, he will derive but little fruit 

1 " Maximum remedium est irae, mora." De Ira, 1. 2, c. 28. 

2 " Turbatus prse ira oculus rectum non videt." De Consid, 1. 2, 
c. ii. 

3 " Secundum rectam rationem irasci." 2. 2, q. 158, a. I. 

4 " Irascimini, et nolite peccare." Ps. iv. 5. 

6 Inirod. p. 3, ch. 8. 6 E. 38, E. &. 

326 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

from the admonition: he will regard it as the effect 
of anger rather than of charity. A single admonition 
given with sweetness and a tranquil countenance will 
do more good than a thousand reproaches, however 
just, accompanied with motions or expressions of anger. 
But to be meek does not imply that in order to show 
kindness or to avoid the displeasure of another we 
should omit to correct him with just rigor, when such 
correction is necessary. To omit correction in that 
case would not be virtue, but a culpable and abomi- 
able negligence. Wo, says the Prophet, to him who 
furnishes a pillow to sinners that they may peacefully 
sleep in their deadly slumber. Wo to them that sew 
cushions under every elbow; and make pillows for the heads 
of persons of every age, to catch souls: . . . you have strength 
ened the hands of the wicked that he should not return from 
his evil way and live. 1 This vicious condescension, says 
St. Augustine, " is not charity, but carelessness." 2 It is 
neither charity nor meekness, but it is negligence, and 
even cruelty, to the poor souls that thus remain in the 
state of damnation, without being admonished of their 
miserable condition. St. Cyprian says that when the 
sick man feels the knife he assails the surgeon; but 
when he is cured he will thank him." Meekness, then, 
implies that when it is necessary to correct a brother 
we should do it with firmness, but at the same time 
with sweetness. And when it is our duty to correct 
others, the Apostle exhorts us first to consider our own 
defects, that we may have compassion for our neighbor 

1 " Vse, quae consuunt pulvillos sub omni cubito manus, et faciunt 
cervicalia sub capite universse setatis, ad capiendas animas! . . . Et 
confortastis manus impii, ut non reverteretur a via sua mala, et 
viveret." Ezech. xiii. 18. 

8 " Non est ista charitas, sed languor." In i Jo. tr. 7. 

3 "Licet conqueratur aeger impatiens per dolorem, gratias aget 
postmodum, cumsenserit sanitatem." DC Lasis. 

INSTR. vii.] Meekness. 327 

as we have for ourselves. Brethren, if a man be overtaken 
in a fault, you who are spiritual instruct such a one in the 
spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be 
tempted. 1 Peter de Blois says that it is great baseness in 
a Superior to correct an inferior with anger and asper 
ity. 2 Anger so disfigures the face that it gives to the 
most beautiful countenance a horrible appearance, says 
Seneca. 3 In this matter, then, we should always attend 
to the admonition of St. Gregory: " Be kind, yet with 
out effeminacy; use rigor, but without exasperating; 
be merciful, without sparing more than is expedient." 4 

Physicians, says St. Basil, 5 should not get angry with 
a patient, but should only assail his disease in order to 
restore his health. Cassian relates 6 that a young re 
ligious who was violently tempted against chastity 
sought advice from an aged monk; but instead of assist 
ing and encouraging him, the old man loaded him with 
reproaches. But what was the result ? The Lord per 
mitted the aged monk to be so violently attacked by the 
spirit of impurity that he ran like a madman through 
the monastery. Having heard of his indiscretion towards 
the young man, the abbot went to him, and said: 
" Brother, know that God has permitted you to be 
molested by this temptation, that you may learn to take 
compassion on others." 

When, therefore, we witness the weaknesses and faults 
of others, we ought not to reprove them with a vain 
conceit of ourselves: but in applying, to the best of our 

1 " Fratres. et si prseoccupatus fuerit homo in aliquo delicto, vos 
qui spirituales estis, hujusmodi instruite in spiritu lenitatis, con- 
siderans teipsum, ne et tu tenteris." Gal. vi. I. 

2 " Turpe quidem est in prselato, cum ira et austeritate corripere." 
Ep. 100. 

3 " Facies turbatior, pulcherrima ora foedavit." De Ira, \. 2, c. 35. 

4 "Sit amor, sed non emolliens; sit rigor, sed. non exasperans; sit 
pietas, sed non plus, quam expediat, parcens." Mor. \. 20, c. 6. 

5 Reg. fus. disp. int. 51, 6 Collat. 2, c. 13. 

328 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

ability, a remedy to their faults, we should be humble 
in our own estimation: otherwise God will permit us to 
fall into the very defects that we condemn in others. 
The same Cassian relates that a certain abbot, called 
Machete, confessed that he had miserably fallen into 
three faults of which he had before judged his brethren. 
Hence St. Augustine says that compassion for our 
neighbor, and not indignation, should precede correc 
tion. 2 And St. Gregory tells us that the consideration 
of our own defects will make us pity and excuse the 
faults of others. 3 

Thus to yield to anger is never profitable to ourselves 
or to others. If it produce no other evil, it at least robs 
us of peace. Agrippinus the philosopher having once 
lost some of his goods, said: " If I have lost my prop 
erty I will not lose my peace." The disturbance of mind 
to which we give way on account of the maltreatment 
we receive from others is more hurtful to us than the 
injuries offered to us. Seneca has said: " My anger 
will hurt me more than their insults." 4 He who in 
dulges anger when an affront is offered to him is a 
cause of pain to himself. " Thou hast decreed, O Lord !" 
says St. Augustine, " that the soul that is inordinate 
should be its own torment. " f 

Hence that great master of meekness, St. Francis de 
Sales, teaches that it is necessary to practise meekness 
not only to others, but also to ourselves. After yield 
ing to a fault, some are indignant with themselves, and 

1 De Cccnob. inst. 1. 5, c. 30. 

2 " Reprehensionem, non odium, sed misericordia preecedat." De 
Serm. D. in monte, 1. 2, c. 19. 

3 " Considerata infirmitas propria, mala nobis excusat aliena."- 
Mor. 1. 5, c. 33. 

4 " Plus mihi nocitura est ira, quam injuria. " DC Ira, \. 3, c. 25. 

5 " Jussisti ut poena sua sibi sit omnis inordinatus animus." Conf. 
1. i, c. 12. 

6 Introd. p. 3, ch. q. 

INSTR. vii.] Meekness. 329 

give way to disquietude, and in this state of agitation 
they commit a thousand faults. In troubled water, 
says St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the devil always finds fish 
to catch. It is necessary, then, when we perceive that 
we have fallen into a defect, not to be disturbed (to give 
way to disquietude after a fault is the effect of our own 
pride, and of the high opinion we had of our own vir 
tue), but to humble ourselves peacefully, to detest the 
sin, and instantly to have recourse to God, hoping to 
receive from him help to avoid a relapse. 

In a word, they who are truly humble and meek live 
always in peace, and in every occurrence preserve tran 
quillity of soul. Learn of Me, says Jesus Christ, because 
I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to 
your souls. 1 And before him, David said: The meek shall 
inherit the land, and shall delight in abundance of peace? 
"Nothing is able to disturb their serenity," 3 says St. 
Leo. No insult, no loss, no misfortune, disturbs the 
peace of a meek heart. 

Should we feel angry on any occasion, we must en 
deavor (according to the advice of the holy bishop of 
Geneva) to repress passion without waiting to examine 
whether it is right or not to subdue it. And after a 
dispute, which may perhaps have disturbed our peace, 
let us observe the advice of the Apostle: Let not the sun 
go down upon your anger. Give not place to the devil? Let 
us first put our soul in peace, and then be reconciled 
to the person by whom we have been offended, lest 
through that spark the devil should kindle in our souls 
a deadly flame that may cause our ruin. 

" Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde, et invenietis re 
quiem animabus vestris." Matth. xi. 2g. 

2 " Mansueti autem hereditabunt terram, et delectabuntur in mul- 
titudine pads." Ps. xxxvi. u. 

3 " Nihil asperum mitibus." De Epiph. s. 5. 

4 "Sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram; nolite locum dare 
diabolo." Efihes^ iv. 26. 

330 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 


We must Bear Contempt. 

Secondly, the virtue of meekness consists still more 
in bearing insults. Many, says St. Francis of Assisi, 
place their sanctification in saying many prayers, or in the 
practice of many corporal mortifications, but afterwards 
they cannot bear an offensive word. " Not understand 
ing," says the saint, " of what profit it is to bear in 
sults." A soul gains more by peacefully bearing an 
affront than by fasting for ten days on bread and 

St. Bernard says that there are three degrees of ad 
vancement, to which a soul that wishes to be a saint, 
ought to aspire. The first is not to wish for authority 
over others; the second, to wish to be subject to all; 
the third is to bear insults with peace. 2 You will, for 
example, see that what is given to others is denied to 
you: what others say is heard with attention; what you 
say is received with derision: others are praised, are 
elected to offices of honor, to transact business of im 
portance; but you are despised: what you do is censured 
and ridiculed. You will be truly humble, says St. Doro- 
theus, 3 if you accept in peace all these humiliations, and 
recommend to God, as your best benefactors, all that 
treat you in this manner; for they thus cure your pride, 
which is a most malignant and deadly malady. 

In thy humiliation keep patience, 1 Behold, then, what 
we must do; we must give way neither to anger nor to 
complaints, but accept insults as due to our sins. He 

1 " Non intelligences, quanto majus sit lucrum in tolerantia in- 

2 "Primus profectus, nolle dominari; secundus, velle subjici; ter- 
tius, injurias sequanimiter pati." De Divers, s. 60. 

3 Doctr. 20. 

4 " In humilitate tua patientiara habe." Ecclus. ii. 4. 

INSTR. vn.i Meekness. 


who has offended God merits very different insults: he 
deserves to be cast under the feet of the devils. St. 
Francis Borgia was once obliged on a journey to sleep 
in the same bed with his companion, Father Busta- 
mente, who labored under asthma, and spent the whole 
night coughing and casting out phlegm. He thought 
that he was spitting towards the wall; but frequently 
the phlegm fell on the face of St. Francis. In the 
morning the Father was greatly grieved at what he had 
done; but the saint placidly answered: " Father, be not 
troubled; for certainly in this room there is no place so 
fit for the reception of spittle as my face." The proud, 
because they esteem themselves worthy of all honor, 
convert the humiliations that they receive into an occa 
sion of pride; but the humble, because they think them 
selves deserving of all ignominies, convert the insults 
offered to them into a source of humility. " He is hum 
ble," says St. Bernard, " who changes humiliations into 
humility." Rodriguez says that when reproved the 
proud imitate the hedgehog, which when touched be 
comes all thorns; that is, they get into a fury, and in 
stantly break out into complaints, reproaches, and de 
traction. But, on the other hand, the humble when 
blamed for their conduct humble themselves still more, 
confess that they are full of defects, thank the person 
who corrects them, arid preserve tranquillity of soul. 
He who is disturbed by correction shows that in him 
pride still reigns. Hence they who are disquieted by 
correction or admonitions must humble themselves 
more before God, and entreat him to deliver them from 
the hands of pride, which still lives in their hearts. 

My spikenard sent forth the odor thereof? The spike 
nard is a small odoriferous plant that sends forth its 

1 " Est humilis, qui humiliationem convertit in humilitatcm." In 
Cant, s. 34. 

2 " Nardus mea dedit odorera suum." CanL i. II. 

332 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

odors when bruised and twisted. Oh, what odors of 
sweetness does an humble soul give to God when she 
peacefully suffers insults, and delights in seeing herself 
despised and maltreated! Being asked what must be 
done in order to acquire true humility, Zachary, a monk, 
took his cowl, and trampling on it said: "He who de 
lights in seeing himself treated in this manner is truly 
humble." Father Alvarez used to say that the time of 
humiliation is the time of getting rid of our miseries, 
and of acquiring great treasures of merit. God is as 
liberal of his gifts to the humble as he is sparing to the 
proud: God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the hum 
ble* St. Augustine says that a guilty conscience is not 
healed by praise, nor a good conscience wounded by in 
sults. 2 It was this that St. Francis of Assisi meant when 
he said: " We are what we are before God." It is, then, 
of little importance to us whether we are praised or 
censured by men : it is enough for us to merit praise from 
God. And God will certainly bestow great praise on 
all that cheerfully bear insults from others for his sake. 
The meek are dear to God and to men. St. John 
Chrysostom says that there is nothing that gives greater 
edification to others, and draws souls more powerfully 
to God, than the meekness of the man who, when treated 
with derision, contempt, and insult, seeks not revenge, 
but bears all with a peaceful and placid countenance. 3 
St. Ambrose writes that Moses was more beloved by the 
Hebrews on account of the meekness with which he re 
ceived insults, than on account of the miracles which he 
wrought. 4 The meek are useful to themselves and to 

1 " Deus superbis resistit; humilibus autem dat gratiam." James, 
iv. 6. 

2 " Nee malam conscientiam sanat laudantis praeconium, nee bonam 
vulnerat conviciantis opprobrium." Contra Petil. 1. 3, c. 7. 

3 " Nihil ita conciliat domino familiares, ut quod ilium vident man- 
suetudine jucundum." S. de Mansuet. 

4 " Ut plus eum pro mansuetudine diligerent, quam pro factis ad- 
mirarentur." Offic. 1. 2, c. 7. 

INSTR. vii.] Meekness. 333 

others, says St. John Chrysostom. 1 Father Maffei re 
lates that while a Jesuit was preaching in Japan, an in 
solent bystander spit in his face; the Father wiped away 
the spittle, and continued the sermon as if nothing had 
happened. At the sight of such meekness one of the 
audience was converted, and said that a religion that 
teaches such humility must be true and divine. Thus> 
also, by the meekness and tranquillity with which he 
bore all the insults heaped upon him by the heretical 
ministers St. Francis de Sales converted an immense 
number of heretics. Meekness is the touchstone of 
sanctity. St. John Chrysostom says* that the surest 
means of knowing whether a soul has virtue is to observe 
if she practises meekness under contradictions. In the 
history of Japan, Crasset relates that a certain Augus- 
tinian missionary who, in the time of the persecution, 
had changed his dress, received a buffet without resent 
ing it. Seeing his meekness, the idolaters instantly 
supposed him to be a Christian, and laid hold of him; 
for said they, no one but a Christian could practise such 

Ah ! at the sight of Jesus loaded with contempt it is 
easy to bear all insults. Standing one day before a 
crucifix, Blessed Mary of the Incarnation said to her 
religious: "O sisters ! can it be possible that we will not 
bear contempt when we see a God so despised ?" On 
his journey to Rome to receive the crown of martyrdom, 
St. Ignatius, Martyr, finding himself so maltreated by 
the soldiers, said: "I now begin to be the servant of 
Christ." : What can be expected from a Christian if he 
is not able to bear contempt for Jesus Christ? It is in 
deed very painful to our pride to be despised and in 
sulted, without seeking revenge, or even making a reply. 

1 " Mansuetus, utilis sibi et aliis." In Act. horn. 6. 

2 In Gen. horn. 34. 

3 " Nunc incipio esse Christ! discipulus." Ep. ad Rom. 

334 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

But in doing violence to ourselves consists our progress 
in perfection, says St. Jerome. 1 A holy nun, whenever 
she received an affront, was accustomed to go to the 
holy sacrament, and to say: " Lord, I am a poor miser 
able creature: I have nothing to present to you, but I 
offer this little gift this insult that I have received." 
Oh, how lovingly does Jesus Christ embrace the soul 
that is despised ! Oh, how soon does he console her 
and enrich her with his graces ! 

Ah ! the soul that truly loves Jesus Christ not only 
bears insults in peace, but embraces them with pleasure 
and joy. The holy Apostles went from the presence of the 
council rejoicing that they were accotinted worthy to suffer re 
proach for the name of Jesus? St. Joseph Calasanctius 
used to say that in many are verified the last words of 
this passage they are accounted worthy to suffer re 
proach for the name of Jesus, but not the first they went 
rejoicing. But he who wishes to be a saint must at least 
aspire to this degree of perfection. " He is not humble 
that does not wish to be despised," 3 says the same saint. 
The Venerable Louis da Ponte did not at first understand 
how a man could rejoice in contempt; but when he after 
wards attained higher perfection he easily comprehended 
it, and experienced joy under insults. It was this that 
St. Ignatius of Loyola, coming~from heaven, taught St. 
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi: he said to her that true 
humility consists in attaining such a state of mind as 
to feel a continual joy in all things which can lead a 
person to self-contempt. 

Worldlings do not rejoice as much in the honors that 
they receive, as the saints do in seeing themselves de- 

1 " Tantum proficies, quantum tibi ipsi vim intuleris." De Imit. 1. 
I, c. 25. 

* " Ibant gaudentes a conspectu concilii, quoniam digni habiti sunt 
pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati." Acts, v. 41. 

3 " Non est humilis, qui non optat sperni." 

INSTR. vn.i Meekness. 335 

spised. Brother Juniper, of the Order of St. Francis, 
when treated with insult held out his habit as if to 
receive precious gems. When St. John Francis Regis 
saw himself made an object of laughter he not only 
rejoiced at the humiliation, but sought still more to 
excite derision. To St. John of the Cross the Redeemer 
once appeared with a cross on his shoulders and a crown 
of thorns on his head, and said: "John, ask what you 
desire of me." 1 The saint answered: " O Lord ! to suffer 
and to be despised for Thee." 5 As if he said: Lord, 
since I see you so afflicted and despised for my sake, 
what else can I ask but sufferings. and contempt? 

To conclude: He who wishes to belong entirely to God, 
and to assimilate himself to Jesus Christ, must love to 
be unknown and disregarded. " Love to be unknown 
and to be regarded as nothing," 3 was the great lesson of 
St. Bonaventure, which St. Philip Neri constantly incul 
cated to his spiritual children. Jesus Christ tells us to 
esteem ourselves happy, and to exult with joy when we 
are hated, cast off, and censured by men for his sake. 
He tells us that the more galling the insults which we 
accept with joy, the greater the reward will he give us 
in heaven. Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and 
when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast 
out your name as evil, for the Son of Man s sake. Be glad 
in that day and rejoice; for, behold, your reward is great in 
heaven? And what greater joy can a soul feel than that 
which arises from seeing herself despised for the love of 
Jesus Christ? Then, says St. Peter, she obtains the 

1 "Joannes, pete quid vis a me." 

2 " Domine, pati et contemni pro te." 

3 " Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputari." Alphab. rel. 

4 " Beati eritis, cum vos oderint homines, et cum separaverint vos, 
et exprobraverint, et ejecerint nomen vestrum tanquam malum, prop- 
ter Filium hominis. Gaudete in ilia die, et exsultate; ecce enim mer- 
ces vestra multa est in ccelo." Luke, vi. 22. 

336 Material for Instructions. LPART n. 

greatest honor that it is possible for her to receive; for 
God then treats her as he has treated his own very Son. 
If you are reproached for the name of CJirist, you shall be 
blessed, for that which is of the honor, glory, and power of God 
. . . resteth upon you? 

1 "Si exprobramini in nomine Christi, beati eritis, quoniam quod 
est honoris, glorize, et virtutis Dei, et qui est ejus Spiritus, super vos 
requiescit." I Pet. iv. 14. 

INSTR. vin.] Mortification in General. 337 




Necessity of Mortification in General. 

MAN was created by God in a state of integrity, so 
that without a struggle the senses obeyed the spirit, and 
the spirit obeyed God: God made man right. 1 Sin came 
and deranged the beautiful order that God had estab 
lished, and the life of man began to be a state of con 
tinual warfare: For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and 
the spirit against the flesh? But I see, says the Apostle in 
a tone of lamentation, another law in my members, fighting 
against the law of the mind, and captivating me in the law of 
sin that is in my members.^ 

Hence for man there are two kinds of life the life of 
the angels, who seek to do the will of God, and the life 
of beasts, who attend only to the indulgence of the 
senses. If a man labors to do the will of God he be 
comes an angel; if he seeks after sensual gratifications 
he becomes a beast. Hence what the Lord prescribed 
to Jeremias, Lo, I have set thee this day . . . to root up and 
to pull down, . . . to build and to plant? we ought to do in 

1 "Quod fecerit Deus hominem rectum." Eccles. vii. 30. 

2 " Caro enim concupiscit adversus spiritum, spiritus autem adver- 
sus camera." Gal. v, 17. 

;{ "Video autem aliam legem in membris meis, repugnantem legi 
mentis meae, et captivantem me in lege peccati." -- Rom. vii. 23. 

4 " Constitui te . . . ut evellas et destruas, . . . aedifices et plantes." 
Jer. i. 10. 

338 Material for Instructions. IPART n 

ourselves: we should plant virtues, but we should first 
extirpate noxious weeds. Hence we must always carry 
in our hand the mattock of mortification, to cut down 
the evil desires that constantly spring up and bud forth 
within us from the infected roots of concupiscence; 
otherwise the soul shall become a forest of vices. 

In a word, it is necessary to cleanse the heart, if we 
wish for light to know God, the sovereign Good: jBlessed 
are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. 1 Hence St. 
Augustine has said: "If you wish to see God take care, 
to purify your heart." 2 Isaias asks: Whom shall He teach 
knowledge ? . . . Them that are weaned from the milk, that 
are drawn away from the breasts? God gives the science 
of the saints, that is, the science of knowing and loving 
him, only to them that are weaned and drawn away from 
the breasts of the world: But tJie sensual man perceivetJi not 
these things that are of the Spirit of God." He who like a 
brute animal seeks after sensual pleasures is not capable 
of even understanding the excellence of spiritual goods. 

St. Francis de Sales says that as salt preserves flesh 
from corruption, so mortification preserves the soul from 
sin. In the soul in which mortification reigns all virtues 
shall flourish. Myrrh and stacte and cassia perfume thy gar 
ments " On this passage Guerric the abbot writes: " When 
myrrh begins to exhale a perfume, soon other aromatical 
perfumes will be exhaled. " f This is precisely what the 

1 "Beat! mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt." Matth. v. 8. 

2 " Deum videre vis? prius cogita de corde mundando." Serm. 177, 
E. B. app. 

3 " Quern docebit (Deus) scientiam ? Ablactatos a lacte, avulsos ab 
uberibus." ha. xxviii. 9. 

4 " Animalis autem homo non percipit ea quae sunt Spiritus Dei."- 
i Cor. ii. 14. 

5 " Myrrha, et gutta. et casia, a vestimentis tuis." Ps. xliv. 9. 

6 " Si myrrha prima spirare coeperit per mortificationem voluptatum, 
consequentur et alise species aromaticae." De Annunt. s. i. 

INSTR. viii.] Mortification in General. 339 

sacred Spouse has said: I have gathered my myrrh with my 
aromatical spices. 

All our sanctity and salvation consist in following the 
examples of Jesus Christ: For whom He foreknew, He also 
predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son? 
But we shall not be able to imitate Jesus Christ unless 
we deny ourselves, and embrace by mortification the 
cross that he gives us to carry: If any man will come after 
Me, let him deny Jiimself and take up his cross and follow Me? 
The life of our Redeemer was all full of sufferings, of sor 
rows, and ignominies. Hence Isaias said of him, that he 
was despised and the most abject of men: a man of sorrows.* 
As a mother takes nauseous medicine in order to cure 
the infant to which she gives suck, so our Redeemer, 
says St. Catharine of Sienna, wished to assume so many 
pains in order to heal the infirmities of us poor sinners. 
But since Jesus Christ has endured so much for the love 
of us, it is but just that we suffer for his sake. We must, 
then, endeavor to follow the advice of St. Paul: Always 
bearing about in your body the mortification of Jesus, that the 
life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies? " This 
we shall do," says St. Anselm in his comment on the 
preceding text, when, "in imitation of him, we assidu 
ously practise mortification. " f To this we priests, who 
celebrate the mysteries of the Passion of our Lord, are 
bound in a special manner. " Because," says Hugh of 
St. Victor, "while celebrating the divine mysteries we 

" Messui myrrham meam cum aromatibus meis." Cant. v. i. 

2 " Quos praescivit, et prsedestinavit conformes fieri imaginis Filii 
sui." Rom. viii. 29. 

3 " Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum, et tollat crucem 
suam, et sequatur me." Matt. xvi. 24. 

" Despectum et novissimum virorum, virum dolorum." Isa. liii. 3. 

5 "Semper mortificationem Jesu in corpore nostro circumferentes, 
ut et vita Jesu manifestetur in corporibus nostris." 2 Cor. iv. 10. 

6 " Ad ejus imitationem, assidue carnem mortificemus." 

340 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

celebrate the Passion of our Lord: we should therefore 
be careful to reproduce it in our lives." 

The principal means of acquiring sanctity are prayer 
and mortification, represented in the sacred Scripture by 
incense and myrrh. Who is this that goeth up by the desert, 
as a pillar of smoke of uromatical spices, of myrrh and frank 
incense? The Holy Ghost adds: and of all the powders of 
the perfumer? to show that prayer and mortification are 
followed by all virtues. Prayer, then, and mortification, 
are necessary to render a soul holy; but mortification 
must precede prayer: / will go to the mountain of myrrh 
and to the hill of frankincense? Thus our Lord invites us 
to follow him, first to the mountain of myrrh, and then 
to the hill of frankincense. St. Francis Borgia used to 
say, that prayer introduces divine love into the heart; 
but it is mortification that prepares a place for charity, 
by removing from the soul the world, which should 
otherwise prevent the entrance of love. Should a per 
son go to a fountain for water with a vessel full of earth, 
he shall take back nothing but mire. He must first cast 
away the earth, and then fill the vessel with water. Father 
Baltassar Alvarez used to say that prayer without mor 
tification is either an illusion, or will be only of short 
duration. And St. Ignatius of Loyola has said that a 
mortified soul unites herself more intimately to God in 
a quarter of an hour s prayer, than an immortified soul 
does in several hours. Hence, having once heard a per 
son praised for his great spirit of prayer, the saint said: 
"It is a sign that he practises great mortification." 

1 "Quia passionis dominicae mysteria celebramus, debemus imitari 
quod agimus." 

2 "Quae est ista quae ascendit per desertum, sicut virgula fumi ex 
aromatibus myrrhae et thuris?" Cant. Hi. 6. 

3 Et universi pulveris pigmentarii." 

4 " Vadam ad montem myrrhae et ad collem thuris." Cant. iv. 6. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 341 


Necessity of Interior Mortification. 

We have a soul and a body. External mortification is 
necessary in order to mortify the disorderly appetites of 
the body; and interior mortification is necessary in order 
to mortify the irregular affections of the soul. All this 
is comprised in the following words of the Saviour: If 
any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up 
his cross, and follow Me. 1 External mortification is in 
cluded in the words let him take up his cross; this species 
of mortification is necessary, as we shall see hereafter: but 
interior mortification is still more important and neces 
sary let him deny himself. This consists in subjecting to 
reason the disorderly passions of the soul; such as am 
bition, inordinate anger, self-esteem, attachment to self- 
interest, to our own opinion, or to self-will. " There are 
two kinds of crosses," says St. Augustine, "one corporal, 
the other spiritual. The latter is more sublime, and con 
sists in curbing the inordinate inclinations of the heart." a 
External mortification, then, represses the appetites of 
the body in order to bring it under subjection to the 
spirit; the interior mortification restrains the affections 
of the heart in order to subject them to reason and God; 
hence it has been called by the Apostle: The circumcision 
is that of the heart, in the spirit? In themselves the passions 
are indifferent, and not sinful; and when well regulated 
by reason they are useful, because they contribute to 
the preservation of our existence. But when opposed 
to reason, they are the ruin of the soul. Miserable the 

1 " Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum, et tollat crucem 
suam, et sequatur me." Matt. xvi. 24. 

2 " Duo sunt crucis genera, unum corporale, aliud spirituale. Al- 
terum est sublimius, scilicet, regere motus animi." Serin. 196, E. 
B. app. 

3 " Circumcisio cordis in spiritu." Rom. ii. 29. 

34 2 Material for Instructions. IPART n. 

soul that God leaves in the hands of her own desires ! 
This is the greatest chastisement which he can inflict 
upon her. I let tliein go according to the desires of their own 
hearts: they shall walk in their own inventiotis. 1 Hence we 
must always pray to the Lord in the words of Solomon: 
Give me not over to a shameful and foolish mind? My God, 
do not abandon me into the hands of my passions. 

Our principal care, then, should be to conquer ourselves. 
Conquer thyself? St. Ignatius of Loyola appeared not to 
consfder any lesson more important than that which is 
contained in the words Conquer thyself: his familiar dis 
courses were ordinarily on conquering self-love and sub 
duing self-will; and he would say, that out of a hundred 
persons who practise prayer, more than ninety are at 
tached to their own opinion. He set a greater value on 
a single act of mortification of self-will than on several 
hours spent in prayer, in the midst of spiritual consola 
tions. To a Brother who separated from the company 
of the others in order to get rid of a certain defect the 
saint said, that he would have gained more by a few acts 
of mortification in the society of his companions than 
he would by remaining silent in a cave for an entire 
year. * It is no small matter," writes Thomas a Kempis, 
"even in things the most trifling, to relinquish self." 4 
On the other hand, St. Peter Damian asserts that unless 
he leaves himself, it will profit a man nothing to have 
forsaken all things. 5 Hence, to a person who wished to 
leave all things in order to give himself to God, St. 
Bernard said: "Remember that if you have resolved to 

1 " Dimisi eos secundum desideria cordis eorum; ibunt in adinven- 
tionibus suis." Ps. Ixxx. 13. 

2 " Animse irreverent! et infrunitae ne tradas me." Ecclus. xxiii. 6. 

3 " Vince teipsum." 

4 " Non est minimum, in minimis seipsum relinquere." De Imit, 

1. 3- c. 39- 

5 " Nihil prodest, sine seipso cretera reliquisse." Ilom. 9, 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 343 

leave everything, you must count yourself among those 
things that you must leave." Unless, adds the saint, 
you deny yourself, you shall never be able to be a fol 
lower of Jesus Christ. 2 Our Redeemer hath rejoiced as a 
giant to run the way. 3 But, says the holy Doctor, he who 
carries the weight of his passions and of earthly affec 
tions, and wishes to follow the Saviour, shall not be able 
to keep within view of Jesus running the way. 

It is necessary, above all, to attend to the subjugation 
of the predominant passion. Some are careful to mortify 
themselves in many things, but make little effort to con 
quer the passion to which they are most inclined; such 
persons can never advance in the way of God. He who 
allows any irregular passion to rule over him, is in great 
danger of being lost. But, on the other hand, he who 
subdues the predominant passion will easily conquer all 
his other passions. When the strongest enemy is van 
quished, it is easy to defeat less powerful foes. The value 
and merit of the victory is greatest when the greatest 
valor is required: for example, some are not avaricious 
of money, but are full of self-esteem; others are not 
ambitious of honors, but feel a great thirst for riches. 
Unless the former are careful to practise mortification, 
when treated with contempt, their disregard for riches 
will profit them but little. Unless the latter labor to 
mortify the desire of wealth, their contempt for honors 
will be but of little advantage to them. In a word, a 
person gains most merit and makes the greatest prog 
ress when he uses the greatest violence to conquer 
himself. "So much will you advance in virtue," says 

" Qui relinquere disponis omnia, te quoque inter relinquenda 
numerare memento." Declam. n. 3. 

2 "Sane, nisi abnegaverit semetipsum, sequi eum (Christum) non 
potest." Ib. n. 48. 

3 " Exsultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam" (Ps, xviii, 6); " nee sequi 
poteras oneratus." Declam. n. 2. 

344 Material J or Instructions. [PARTII. 

St. Jerome, " as you do violence to yourself." J St. Ig 
natius was naturally prone to anger, but by virtue he 
became so meek that he was considered to be a man of 
a mild disposition. St. Francis de Sales was also strong 
ly inclined to anger; but by the violence that he offered 
to himself he became, as we read in his life, an example 
of patience and sweetness in the many contradictions 
and insults that he received. 

External mortification, without interior self-denial , 
profits the soul but little. Of what use, says St. Jerome, 
is it to reduce the body by fasting, and afterwards to 
swell with pride? or to abstain from wine, and to be in 
ebriated with hatred ? 2 The Apostle says that we must 
put off the old man, that is, attachment to self-love, and 
clothe ourselves with the new man, that is, Jesus Christ, 
who never pleased himself. For, says St. Paul, Christ 
did not please Himself? Hence St. Bernard pitied certain 
monks who wore an humble dress, but interiorly cher 
ished their passions: "This humble habit is not a sign 
of interior holiness, but a cover thrown over inveterate 
corruption. They have not stripped themselves of the 
old man, but have only hidden him." 4 They, says the 
saint, do not put off their vices: they only cover them 
with the exterior marks of penance. Hence, fasting, 
watching, hair-shirts, and disciplines are of little or no 
use to him who is attached to himself, and to what be 
longs to him. 

1 "Tantum proficies, quantum tibi ipsi vim intuleris." De Imit. 1. 
J, c. 25. 

2 "Quid prodest tenuari abstinentia, si animus intumescit superbia? 
Quid vinum non bibere, et odio inebriari ?" Ef. ad Celant. 

3 " Etenim Christus non sibi complacuit." Rom. xv. 3. 

4 " Humilis habitus non sanctse novitatis est meritum, sed priscse 
vetustatis operculum. Veterem hominem non exuerunt, sed novo 
palliant." In Cant, s, 16. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 345 

The Practice of Interior Mortification. 

They, says St. John Climacus, 1 who wish to belong 
entirely to God must divest themselves of attachment 
to four things in particular: to property, to honors, to 
relatives, and above all, to self-will. 


First, it is necessary to remove attachment to property 
or to riches. St. Bernard says that riches are a burden 
to him who possesses them, that they contaminate the 
man who loves them, and torture him who loses them. 3 
The priest ought to remember, that when he entered the 
sanctuary he declared, in the following words, that he 
wished for no other possessions than God: The Lord is the 
portion of my inheritance; . . . it is Thou that wilt restore my 
inheritance to me. 3 The ecclesiastic, then, says St. Peter 
Damian, who after having chosen God for his portion 
attends to the acquisition of riches, offers a great insult 
to his Creator. 4 Yes, for by his conduct he shows that 
he considers the Lord not sufficient to content his heart. 
St. Bernard says, and says truly, that among the covet 
ous there is none more avaricious than the ecclesiastic 
who is attached to money. 5 How many priests are there 
who, but for the miserable honorarium that they receive, 
would seldom say Mass ! Would to God that they never 

1 Seal. par. gr. 2. 

2 " Possessa onerant, amata inquinant, atnissa cruciant." Ep. 103. 

3 " Dominus pars hereditatis meae et calicis mei; tu es qui restitues 
hereditatem. meam mihi." Ps. xv. 5. 

4 " Si igitur Deus portio ejus est, non levem Creatori suo contume- 
liam videtur inferre, qui, super hoc singulare talentum, terrenam 
sestuat pecuniam cumulate." Opusc. 27. procem. 

5 "Quis, obsecro, avidius clericis quaerit temporalia?" S. ad Past. 
in syn. 

346 Material for Instructions. [PART H. 

offered the holy sacrifice ! They, as St. Augustine says, 
belong to that class of men who do not seek for money 
in order to serve God; but serve God in order to accu 
mulate riches. 1 What a disgrace, exclaims St. Jerome, 
to see a priest intent on the acquisition of wealth ! 2 

But let us pass by the disgrace, and examine the great 
danger of perdition, to which a priest intent on heaping 
up riches exposes his soul. " Those priests are greatly 
in peril," says St. Hilary, " who are anxious to amass 
riches and increase their fortune." 5 This the Apostle 
has taught, saying that such persons shall not only be 
molested by many cares which impede their spiriual 
progress, but shall also fall into temptations and desires 
which will lead them to ruin. They that will become rich, 
fall into temptations, . . . and into many unprofitable and 
hurtful desires, which draw men into destruction and perdi 
tion? And into what excesses, thefts, injustice, simony, 
and sacrileges has the desire of money precipitated cer 
tain priests ! St. Ambrose says: " He who amasses gold 
loses the grace of God." 5 St. Paul assimilates avarice 
to idolatry: A covetous person (which is a serving of idols) ." 
And justly, for the covetous man makes money his God, 
that is, his last end. 

" Extirpate the thirst for gold," says St. John Chrysos- 
tom, "and you will extirpate all crimes." If, then, we 
wish to possess God, let us remove all attachment to the 

1 " Non nummum propter Deum impendunt, sed Deum propter 
nummum colunt." De Civ. D. \. n, c. 25. 

2 " Ignominia Sacerdotis est studere divitiis." Ep. ad Nepot. 

3 " Ingenti periculo sunt Sacerdotes qui curis pecuniae, et familiarium 
rerum incrementis, occupantur." In Ps. 138. 

4 "Qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt in tentationem, et in laqueum 
diaboli, et desideria multa inutilia et nociva, quse mergunt homines in 
interitum et perditionem." i Tim. vi. 9. 

6 " Qui aurum redigit, gratiam prodigit." Serin. 59. 

6 "Avarus, quod est idolorum servitus." Ephes. v. 5. 

7 " Tolle pecuniarum studium, et omnia mala sublata sum ". /. : 
Tim. horn. 17. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 347 

goods of this world. St. Philip Neri used to say that 
he who seeks after riches shall never become a saint. 
The riches of us who are priests should consist not in 
possessions, but in virtues; these will make us great in 
heaven, and give us strength on earth against the ene 
mies of our salvation. This is the language of St. Pros 
per: " Our riches are chastity, piety, humility, meekness: 
they only will make us great in heaven, and at the same 
time strong upon earth against the enemies of our sal 
vation." Let us, says the Apostle, be content with 
moderate food for the support of life, and simple raiment 
to cover the body: let us labor to become saints; this 
alone is important to us: But having food, and ivherewitli 
to be covered, with these we are content? Of what use are 
earthly goods, which we must one day quit, and which 
never content the heart? Let us seek to acquire goods 
which shall accompany us to eternity, and make us 
happy forever in heaven: Lay not up to yourselves treasures 
on eartJi, where the rust and the moth consume. . . . But lay 
up treasures in heaven? Hence, in the Council of Milan 
the following admonition was given to priests: " Lay up 
treasures not on earth, but good works and souls for 
heaven. The treasures of a priest should consist in 
good works, and in gaining souls to God. 

Hence, in conformity with the words of the Apostle: 
No man being a soldier to God entangleth himself with secular 
business, that he may please Him to Whom he hath engaged 

1 " Divitios nostrae sunt pudicitia, pietas, humilitas, mansuetudo; 
illse nobis ambiendae sunt, quae nos ornare possint, pariter et munire." 
De Vita cont. 1. 2, c. 13. 

2 " Habentes autem alimenta, et quibus tegamur, his content! 
simus." i Tim. vi. 8. 

3 " Nolite thesaurizare vobis thesauros in terra, ubi aerugo et tinea 
demolitur. . . . Thesaurizate autem vobis thesauros in coelo."- 
Matth. vi. 19. 

4 "Thesaurizate, non thesauros in terra, sed bonorum operum et 
animarum in coelis." 

348 Material for Instructions. (PART n. 

himself* The holy Church prohibits, with so much rigor, 
and under pain of censure, ecclesiastics to engage in 
traffic. The priest is consecrated to God; he therefore 
should attend to no other business than the advance 
ment of God s glory. The Lord does not accept empty 
victims from which the marrow has been extracted. / 
will offer up to Thee, said David, holocausts full of marrow? 
The sacrifices, the Masses, Offices, and works that a 
priest dissipated by the cares of traffic offers to God 
are, says St. Peter Damian, empty; for he has taken 
away the marrow, that is, attention and devotion, and 
presents only the skin or external appearance. 3 What a 
misery to see a priest, who could save souls and do 
great things for the glory of God, employed in buying 
and selling, and engaged in traffic of cattle and corn. 
" You are consecrated," says Peter de Blois, " to great 
things do not occupy yourself with what is trivial." 1 
What but a spider s web, says St. Bernard, is earthly 
traffic ? 5 As the spider eviscerates itself, making its web 
for the purpose of catching a fly, so, O God ! certain 
priests spend themselves, lose their time, and the fruit 
of their spiritual works, in order to gain a little dust. 
They submit to labors, to anxiety and disquietude, for 
emptiness, when they could possess God, who is the 
Lord of all things. "Why do we trouble ourselves," 
exclaims St. Bonaventure, " about nothing, while we may 
possess the Creator of all things ?" 6 

1 "Nemo, militans Deo, implicat se negotiis saecularibus, ut ei pla- 
ceat, cui se probavit." 2 Tim. ii. 4. 

2 " Holocausta medullata offeram tibi." Ps. Ixv. 15. 

a " Quisquis se per negotiorum saeeularium exercitia delectabiliter 
fundit, holocaust! sui medullas cum visceribus subtrahit, et solam 
victimae pellem Deo adolere contendit." Opusc. 12, c. 22. 

4 " Magnis addictus es, noli minimis occupari." De Inst. Episc. 

5 " Fructus horum quid, nisi araneorum telae ?" De Cons. \. i. c. 2. 

6 " Nescio cur nos affligimus circa nihil, cum possidere Creatorem 
omnium valeamus !" Stim. div, am. p. 2, c. 2. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 349 

Some will say: But I act justly; I attend to this busi 
ness without any scruple of conscience. I answer, first, 
that, as has been already said, ecclesiastics are forbidden 
to engage even in a just traffic: hence if they do not 
violate justice, they at least sin against the precept of 
the Church. Besides, St. Bernard says: "Wherever the 
river flows there it hollows out the earth; so the appli- 
cation to earthly affairs injures the conscience." ] As 
in their passage the running waters eat away the banks 
of the river, so the cares of traffic gnaw the conscience, 
that is, they make us always fail in some duty. If, says 
St. Gregory, traffic were productive of no other evil, at 
least the crowd of worldly thoughts that it engenders 
closes the ear of the heart, and prevents it from hearing 
the divine inspirations. 2 In a word, St. Isidore writes: 
"The more priests occupy themselves with the care of 
earthly affairs, the more they separate themselves from 
the things of heaven." : It is true that some are obliged 
by charity to attend to the affairs of their family; but, 
according to St. Gregory, this should be permitted only 
in cases of strict necessity. 4 Some priests undertake, 
without necessity, the care of the concerns of their 
family, and even forbid relatives to interfere in them; 
but if they wished to attend to the affairs of their family 
why have they become ministers of the family of God ? 

The priest who seeks to be employed in the courts 
of the great also exposes his soul to very imminent dan 
ger. Peter de Blois says that as the saints are saved 
through many tribulations, so they who enter courts are 

1 " Rivus, qua fluit, cavat terram ; sic discursus temporalium con- 
scientiam rodit." De Cons, 1. 4, c. 6. 

2 "Aurem cordis terrenarum cogitationum turba, dum perstrepit, 
claudit." Mor. 1. 23, c. 20. 

3 "Quanto se rerum studiis occupant, tanto a charitate divina se 

4 " Ssecularia negotia aliquando ex compassione toleranda sunt, 
nunquam vero ex amore requirenda." Past. p. 2, c. 7. 

350 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

lost through many tribulations. 1 It is very dangerous 
for a priest to plead as an advocate in the courts of law. 
" In the court," says St. Ambrose, " Christ is not found." 2 
What fervor, I ask, can the priest have who pleads in the 
courts? How can he say the Office and Mass with de 
votion when the causes he has to defend fill his whole 
mind and hinder him from thinking of God ? The causes 
that a priest should advocate are the causes of poor 
sinners; and these he should seek to deliver from the 
hands of the devil and from eternal death by sermons, 
by hearing confessions, or at least by admonitions and 
prayers. A priest should abstain from pleading, not 
only for others, but also for himself. Every temporal 
law-suit is a seminary of cares and disquietudes, of 
rancor and sins. Hence we read in the Gospel: And 
if a man will contend with tJiee in judgment and take 
away thy coat, let go thy cloak also to him? We know 
that this is only a counsel; but let us at least avoid 
suits that are but of trifling importance. You may 
get rid of temporal misery, you may gain a victory, 
but you shall suffer a great loss of fervor and peace. 
" Sacrifice something," says St. Augustine, " in order 
that you may enjoy God and escape law-suits. Lose 
your money in order to purchase peace for your soul." 4 
St. Francis de Sales has said that to go to law, and not 
yield to folly, is scarcely given to the saints. Hence St. 
John Chrysostom condemned all that engaged in litiga 
tion. 5 

1 " Per multas tribulationes, intrant justi in regnum coelorum; hi 
autem, per multas tribulationes, promerentur infernum." Ep. 14. 

2 " Non in foro Christus reperitur." DC Virginit. \. 3. 

3 " Ei. qui vult tecum judicio contendere, et tunicam tuam tollere, 
dimitte ei et pallium." Matt. v. 40. 

4 " Perde aliquid, ut Deo vaces, non litibus. Perde nummos, ut 
emas tibi quietem." Serin. 167, R. B. 

5 " Hinc jam te condemno, quod judicio contendas." In i Cor. 
horn. 16. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 351 

What shall we say of gaming? According to the 
Canons, it is certain that to play frequently and for a 
long time at games of mere hazard, or for a large sum, 
at least when it is accompanied with scandal to others, 
is a mortal sin. With regard to other games, which are 
called games of amusement, I will not here discuss the 
question whether they are lawful or unlawful; but I say 
that such amusements are but little suited to a minister 
of God, who, if he wishes to fulfil his obligation to him 
self and his neighbor, has certainly no superfluous time 
to spend in gaming. I read that St. John Chrysostom 
says: "It is the devil that has introduced gaming into 
the world." 1 I find that St. Ambrose writes: " I am of 
opinion that one should not only avoid frequent plays, 
but all plays." 5 In the same place he says that recrea 
tion is lawful; but not the recreations which derange 
regularity of life, or which are not suited to one s state. 
Hence he adds: "Although at times a play may be 
proper, yet it is not proper for ecclesiastics." 3 


Secondly, a priest should divest himself of attach 
ment to worldly honors. Peter de Blois says that the 
ambition of honors is the ruin of souls. 4 For ambition 
disturbs regularity of life, and injures charity towards 
God. Ambition, as the same author says, pretends to 
resemble charity, and is quite opposed to it. Charity 
suffers all things, but only for the attainment of eternal 
goods: ambition bears all things, 5 but only for things 

" Diabolus est qui in artem ludos ingessit." In Matth. horn. 6. 

" Non solum profusos, sed omnes etiam jocos declinandos arbi- 
tror." Offic. 1. i, c. 23. 

"Licet interdum honesta joca sint, tamen ab ecclesiastica abhor 
rent regula. 

"Animarum subversio, cupiditas dignitatum." Ep. 23. 

" Patitur omnia, sed pro caducis." Ep. 14. 

352 Material for Instructions. [PART n 

perishable. Charity is all benignity to the poor, but am 
bition is kind to the rich. 1 Charity bears all 2 in order 
to please God; ambition submits to all evils for the sake 
of vanity. Charity believes and hopes for all that ap 
pertains to eternal glory; ambition believes all things, 
hopes for all things, that tend to the glory of this life. 3 

Oh ! to how many thorns, fears, censures, refusals, 
and insults must the ambitious submit in order to attain 
a dignity, an office of honor ! " How many thorns 
await those that strive after honors!" 4 says St. Augus 
tine. And in the end what do the ambitious gain but a 
little smoke, which, when enjoyed, does not content the 
heart, and speedily disappears. / have seen the wicked 
highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Lebanon. And 
I passed by, and lo he was not? Besides, the Scripture 
says that to him who seeks it honor becomes an occa 
sion of disgrace. The promotion of fools is disgrace? And, 
according to St. Bernard, the greater the honor the 
more the unworthy possessor, who has procured it by 
his own exertions, is despised by others. 7 For the 
more exalted the dignity, the more clearly the man who 
is unfit for it shows his unworthiness by seeking to 
obtain it. 8 

Add to this the great dangers of eternal salvation 
which arise from offices of honor. Father Vincent 
Carafa once visited a sick friend who had just been 
appointed to a situation of great emolument, but also of 

1 " Benigna est, sed divitibus." 

2 " Omnia suffert pro vanitate." 

3 " Omnia credit, omnia sperat, sed quse sunt ad gloriam hujus 

4 " In honorurn cupiditate, quanta spinae !" Enarr. in Ps. 102. 

5 " Vidi impium superexaltatum, et elevatum sicut cedros Libani; 
et transivi, et ecce non erat." Ps. xxxvi. 35. 

6 " Stultorum exaltatio, ignominia." Prov. Hi. 35. 

7 " Eo deformior, quo illustrior." DC O;. 1. 2, c. 7. 

8 " Claras suas maculas reddit." Variar* 1. 12, n. 2. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 353 

great danger. The sick man entreated the Father to 
obtain from God the restoration of his health; but Ca- 
rafa answered: No, my friend, God forbid that I should 
violate the love that I bear you: your sickness is a grace 
from the Lord, who wishes to save you by sending death 
now that your soul is in a good state. Perhaps you 
might not be in such a state hereafter should you enter 
on the office that has been given you. The friend died, 
and died full of consolation. We should have a special 
fear of all offices to which the care of souls is annexed. 
St. Augustine said that many envied his elevation to 
the episcopacy, but he was afflicted at it on account of 
the danger to which his salvation was exposed. 1 St. John 
Chrysostom when made bishop was so much terrified 
that, as he afterwards said, he felt as if his soul were 
separating from the body: he had great doubts about 
the salvation of a pastor of souls. 2 But if the saints, 
forced against their will to become prelates, tremble for 
the account that they must render to God, how r should 
he tremble who intrudes himself into an office to which 
is annexed the care of souls ? " The measure of honor, 1 
says St. Ambrose, " must be measured by the strength 
of him that is to bear it, otherwise if the bearer is too 
weak the burden will weigh him down and cause his 
ruin." J A weak man who puts on his back a great 
weight shall not be able to carry it, but shall be op 
pressed by it. 

St. Anselm says that he who wishes to obtain eccle 
siastical honors through right and wrong does not re- 

" Invident nobis; ibi nos felices putant, ubi periclitamur." 
Serm. 354, E. B. 

2 " Miror, an fieri possit, ut aliquis ex rectoribus salvus fiat." In 
Heb. horn. 34. 

3 " Mensura oneris, pro mensura debet esse gestantis; alioquin 
impositi oneris fit ruina, ubi vectoris infirmitas est." Lib. de Viduis. 


354 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

ceive them, but takes them by force. 1 St. Bernard says 
the same: "Those whom we see entering of themselves 
the vineyard of the Lord are not laborers, but robbers. " 2 
This is conformable to the words of Osee: They have 
reigned, but not by Me. 3 * Hence it happens, as St. Leo 
says, that the Church, which is governed by such ambi 
tious ministers, is neither served nor honored, but de 
spised and defiled. 4 

Let us, then, attend to the beautiful lesson of Jesus 
Christ: Sit down in the lowest place? He who sits on the 
ground is not afraid of falling. We are ashes: " The 
place of ashes and dust is not in a high place, for they 
will be scattered by the wind," says the angelic Doctor." 
Happy the priest who can say: I have chosen to be an ab 
ject in the house of my God rather than to dwell in the taber 
nacles of sinners. 1 


Thirdly, a priest must divest himself of attachment 
to relatives. If any man, says Jesus Christ, hate not his 
father and mother, . . . he cannot be my disciple? But how 

1 "Qui enim se ingerit, et propriam gloriam quaerit, non sumit 
honorem, sed, gratise Dei rapinam faciens, jus alienum usurpat." 
In Heb. v. 4. 

2 " Quos videmus vineis dominicis se ingerere, fures sunt, non 
cultores." In Cant. s. 30. 

3 " Ipse regnaverunt, et non ex me." Osee, viii. 4. 

4 " Corpus Ecclesise ambientium contagione foedatur." Ep. I. 

5 " Recumbe in novissimo loco." L-uke, xiv. 10. 

6 " Cineri non expedit, ut in alto sit, ne dispergatur a vento." De 
Enid, princ. \. I, c. I. 

1 " Elegi abjectus esse in domo Dei mei, magis quam habitare in 
tabernaculis peccatorum." Ps. Ixxxiii. u. 

" Si quis . . . non odit patrem suum et matrem, . . . non potest 
meus esse discipulus." Luke, xiv. 26. 

* We may also apply here the words of our Lord: " Qui non intrat 
per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascendit aliunde, ille fur est et latro." 
John, x. i. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 355 

are we to hate relatives ? We must, says a learned 
author, disown them in whatever is opposed to our 
spiritual advancement: "If they hinder us from living 
according to the rules of ecclesiastical discipline, if they 
ask that we should involve ourselves in secular busi 
ness, then we must hate and shun them as our oppo 
nents." And before him St. Gregory said: " To those 
that are a hindrance to us on the road to God we must 
show by hatred and flight that we do not know them." 2 
Peter de Blois writes: "No one should be chosen priest 
who does not say to his father and mother, I know you 
not." : St. Ambrose says that he who wishes to serve 
God ought to deny his relatives. 4 We should honor 
parents, but we must first obey God, says St. Augustine. 5 
To show great kindness to relatives, and not to obey God, 
is, according to St. Jerome, not piety, but impiety." Our 
Redeemer has declared that he came on earth to detach 
us from relatives. I came to set a man at variance against 
his father, and the daughter against her mother, etc. 7 And 
why? Because in spiritual concerns .relatives are our 
greatest enemies: A mans enemies shall be they of his 
household.* Hence St. Basil exhorts us to avoid, as a 
temptation of the devil, the care of the property of rela- 

1 " Si prohibeant ne vitam secundum ecclesiastics discipline nor- 
mam instituat, si negotiis ssecularibus eum implicent, tune eos, tan- 
quam in Dei adversaries, odisse et fugere tenetur." Abelly, Sac. chr. 
p. 4, c. 6. 

2 "Quos adversaries in via Dei patimur, odiendo et fugiendo nes- 
ciamus." In Evang. horn. 37. 

" Nee in domo Domini Sacerdos eligitur, nisi qui dixerit patri et 
matri: Nescio vos." Ep. 102. 

4 " Suis se abneget, qui servire Deo gestit." De Esau, c. 2. 
6 " Honorandus est pater, sed obediendum est Deo." Serni. 100, 
E. B. 

6 "Grandis in suos pietas, impietas in Deum est." Ep. ad Paulam. 
" Veni enim separare hominem adversus patrem suum." Matth. 
x. 35- 

" Et inimici hominis, domestici ejus." Ibid. 36. 

356 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

tives. 1 What a misery to see a priest who could save 
numberless souls altogether occupied in transacting the 
business of his family, and in attending to the manage 
ment of farms, flocks of sheep, and the like ? What ! 
exclaims St. Jerome, must a priest abandon the service 
of the Father of heaven to please an earthly parent ? 2 
The saint says that when there is question of serving 
God, a son (if it be necessary) should trample on his 
father: " What would you do in the house of your parents, 
O delicate soldier !" asks the saint, "where is the wall, 
where the ditch ? Yes, even if the father lay across the 
threshold walk quietly over him, and hasten with un- 
moistened eyes to the banner of the cross. Filial piety 
in this case consists in being cruel." : 

St. Augustine relates that St. Anthony having received 
a letter from his relatives threw it into the fire, saying: 
"I burn you lest I be burnt by you."" According to 
St. Gregory, he who wishes to be united with God must 
detach himself from relatives. 5 Otherwise, as Peter de 
Blois says, the love of flesh and blood will soon deprive 
us of the love of God. 6 It is difficult to find Jesus 
Christ in the midst of relatives. " How shall I," says 
St. Bonaventure, "find Thee, O Jesus ! among my rela 
tives, since Thou wert not found among Thine?" 7 
When the divine mother, after having found Jesus in 

1 " Fugiamus illorum curam tamquam diabolicam." Const. Alon. 
c. 21. 

2 " Propter patrem, militiam Christ! deseram ?" 

3 " Quid facis in paterna domo, delicate miles? Ubi vallum? ubi 
fossa? Licet in limine pater jaceat, per calcatum perge patrem, 
siccis oculis ad vexillum Crucis evola. Solum pietatis genus est in 
hac re, ess^ crudelem." Ep. ad Heliod. 

4 "Comburo vos, ne comburar a vobis." Ad Fr. in er. s. 40. 

5 " Extra cognates quisque debet fieri, si vult Parenti omnium 
verius jungi." Mor. 1. 7, c. 18. 

6 " Carnalis amor extra Dei amorem cito te capiet." Ep. 134. 

7 " Quomodo te, bone Jesu, inter meos cognates inveniam, qu 
inter tuos minime es invcntus?" Spec. Disc. p. i, c. 23. 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 357 

the temple, said to him: Son, why hast Thou done so to 
us? 1 the Redeemer answered: How is it that you sought 
Me ? did you not know that I must be about My Father s 
business? * Such should be the answer of a priest to his 
relatives when they wish to charge him with the care of 
his family. I am a priest; I can attend only to the 
things of God; to you who are seculars it belongs to 
mind the things of the world. It was this our Lord 
wished to signify to the young man whom he called to 
follow him, when, in answer to the young man s re 
quest to be permitted to bury his father, he said: Let 
the dead bury the dead? 


It is necessary, above all, to remove attachment to 
self-will. St. Philip Neri used to say that sanctity con 
sists in the mortification of self-will. Blosius has as 
serted that he who mortifies self-will does an act more 
pleasing to God than if he gave life to the dead. 4 Hence 
many priests and pastors, and even bishops, who led 
exemplary lives, and devoted their time and labor to 
the salvation of souls, not content with all this, have 
entered religion in order to live under obedience to 
others; believing what is really the truth that they 
could not offer to God a sacrifice more acceptable than 
the renunciation of their own will. All are not called 
to the religious state; but he who wishes to walk in the 
way of perfection (besides the obedience due to his prel 
ate) must submit his will to the direction of at least a 
spiritual Father, who will guide him in all his spiritual 
exercises, and also in temporal affairs of importance, 

1 " Fili, quid fecisti nobis sic?" 

2 "Quid est quod me quaerebatis ? nesciebatis quia, in his quae 
Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse?" Luke, ii. 49. 

3 " Dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos." Matth. viii. 22. 

4 " Acceptius obsequium homo prsestat Deo, suam voluntatem mor- 
t.ificans, quam si mortuos ad vitam revocaret." Sac. an. p. i, 5.. 

358 Material for Instructions. [PART H. 

which are connected with the sanctification of his soul. 
What is done through self-will is of little or no advan 
tage to the soul. 

In the day of your fast your own will is found? Hence 
St. Bernard has written: "A great evil is self-will, 
which causes the good that you do not to be good 
to you." 2 The greatest enemy we have is self-will. 
" Let self-will cease," says the same St. Bernard, " and 
there will be no longer a hell." ; Hell is full of self-will. 
What but our own will is the cause of our sins ? St. 
Augustine confessed of himself that he was impelled by 
grace to forsake sin, but he remained in it bound by no 
other chain than that of his own will. 4 St. Bernard 
teaches that self-will is so opposed to God that were 
his destruction possible it would destroy him. 5 He, 
says the same saint, who becomes his own disciple, be 
comes the disciple of a fool. 6 

It is necessary to understand that all our good con 
sists in a union with the divine will. And life in his good 
will? But, ordinarily speaking, God makes his will 
known to us only through our Superiors, that is, through 
our prelate or director. He that heareth you, says Jesus 
Christ, heareth Me ; 8 and he adds: despiseth you, dcspiseth 
Me? Hence in the Scripture not to submit to the 

1 " In die jejunii vestri, invenitur voluntas vestra." Isa. Iviii. 3. 

2 " Grande malum, propria voluntas, qua fit ut bona tua tibi bona 
non sint." In Cant. s. 71. 

3 "Cesset voluntas propria, et infernus nonerit." In Temp. Pasch. 
s. 3. 

4 " Ligatus, non ferro alieno, sed mea ferrea voluntate." Conf. 1. 
8, c. 5. 

5 "Quantum in ipsa est, Deum perimit propria voluntas." In 
Temp. Pasch. s. 3. 

6 " Qui se sibi magistrum constituit, stulto se discipulum subdit." 
Ep. 87. 

7 " Et vita in voluntate ejus." Ps. xxix. 6. 

8 "Qui vos audit, me audit." Luke, x. 16. 

9 " Et qui. vos spernit, me spernit.." 

INSTR. viii.] Interior Mortification. 35.9 

authority of Superiors is called a species of idolatry. 
Because it is like the sin of witchcraft to rebel? But, on the 
other hand, St. Bernard assures us that in whatever our 
spiritual Father directs us, unless it be certainly sinful, 
we should feel as secure as if God himself had spoken to 
us. 2 

Happy he who can say at death with the Abbot John: 
" I have never done my own will, and never taught any 
thing that I did not do myself." 1 Hence Cassian, who 
relates this fact, has written that by the mortification of 
self-will all vices are destroyed. 4 And before him the 
Wise Man said: An obedient man shall speak of victory? 
And in another place: Obedience is better than sacrifices! 
For he who offers to God the sacrifice of alms, fasts, 
penitential works, sacrifices to him only a part of him 
self; but he who gives God his will by subjecting it to 
obedience, gives all that he is able to give, and can say 
to him: Lord, having given you my will, I have nothing 
more to give you. Hence St. Laurence Justinian has 
written that they who offer the sacrifice of self-will to 
God shall obtain from him whatever they ask. 7 And 
God himself has promised those who renounce self-will 
that he will raise them above the earth, and make them 
celestial men. If thou turn away thy foot . . . from 

1 " Quasi scelus idololatrise, nolle acquiescere." i Kings, xv. 23. 

2 " Quidquid, vice Dei, praecipit homo, quod non sit tamen certum 
displicere Deo, baud secus omnino accipiendum est, quam si prae- 
cipiat Deus." De Prccc. et Disp. c. 9. 

3 " Nunquam meam feci voluntatem; nee quemquam docui, quod 
prius ipse non feci." 

4 " Mortificatione voluntatum marcescunt universa vitia." De 
Catnob. inst. 1. 4, c. 28-43. 

5 " Vir obediens loquetur victoriam." Prov. xxi. 28. 

6 " Melior est enim obedientia quam victimae." I Kings, xv. 22. 

7 " Sicut seipsum Deo tradidit, voluntatem propriam immolando, 
sic a Deo, omne quod poposcerit, consequetur." Lign. v. de Obe.d. 
c. 3. 

360 Material for Instructions. [PART 11. 

doing thy own will, . . . / will lift thee up above the high 
places of the earth. 1 


The means of conquering self-will and of subduing all 
irregular passions are the following: 

1. Prayer: he who prays, obtains all graces. " Though 
prayer is but one, it can do all things," 2 says St. Bona- 
venture. And before him Jesus Christ said: You shall 
ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you? 

2. To do violence to self with a determined will. A 
resolute will surmounts all difficulties. 

3. To make our examen on the passion that molests 
us, and to impose a penance on ourselves as often as we 
yield to it. 

4. To indulge in a multitude of desires. " I," said St. 
Francis de Sales, 4 " desire but few things, and my desire 
for them is not strong." 

5. To practise mortification in small things, and even 
in things that are not sinful; for thus we shall acquire a 
facility of overcoming great difficulties. For example, 
by abstaining from certain jests, by not indulging 
curiosity, not pulling a flower, not opening letters for 
some time after we receive them, by giving up certain 
undertakings, making a sacrifice of them to God, re 
gardless of the honor that they might procure for us. 
What advantage do we now derive from so many grati 
fications ? from so many successful undertakings? Had 
we been mortified on such occasions, how many merits 
should we now have treasured up before God ! Hence 
forth let us labor to gain something for eternity. Let 

1 " Si averteris . . . facere voluntatem tuam, . . . sustollam te 
super altitudines terrse." Isa. Iviii. 13. 

2 " Oratio, cum sit una, omnia potest." 

1 " Quodcumque volueritis, petetis, et fiet vobis." John, xv. 7. 

INSTR. vni. i Interior Mortification. 361 

us reflect that we are drawing near the grave. The 
more we mortify ourselves the less we shall suffer in 
purgatory, and the greater the glory that we shall merit 
for eternity in heaven. On this earth we are only in 
passage: we shall soon be in eternity. I conclude with 
the words of St. Philip Neri: " Foolish is the man who 
does not become a saint." 

362 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 




Necessity of Exterior Mortification. 

ST. GREGORY says that no man is fit to be a minister of 
God, and to offer the sacrifice of the altar, unless he has 
first sacrificed himself entirely to God. 1 And St. Am 
brose writes: " This is the primitive sacrifice, that every 
one offers himself first to God, in order afterwards to be 
able to offer his gift." 2 And long before, the Redeemer 
said: Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, 
itself remaineth alone* He, then, who wishes to bring 
forth fruits of eternal life, must die to himself; that is, 
he must desire nothing for his own satisfaction, and, as 
St. Gregory has written, he must embrace all that is 
mortifying to the flesh. 4 He who is dead to himself 
must, according to Lanspergius, live in the world as if 
he saw nothing, heard nothing; as if nothing disturbed 
and as if nothing gave him content but God. For, says 
Jesus Christ, he that will save his life shall lose it? Happy 

1 " Nullus Deo et Sacrificio dignus est, nisi qui prius se viventem 
hostiam exhibuerit." Apolog. I. 

2 " Hoc est sacrificium primitivum, quando unusquisqne se offert 
hostiam, ut postea munus suum possit offerre." DC Cain ct Ab. 1. 2, 
c. 6. 

3 "Nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram mortuum fuerit, ipsum 
solum manet; si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert."- 
John, xii. 24. 

4 " Nihil quod caro blanditur, libeat; nihil quod carnalem vitam 
trucidat, spiritus perhorrescat." In Evang. honi. n. 

5 " Qui enim voluerit animam suam salvam facere, perdet earn; qui 
autem perdiderit animam suam propter me, inveniet earn," Matth.. 
xvi. 25. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 363 

loss, exclaims St. Hilary, when everything in this world, 
and even life itself, is lost in order to follow Jesus Christ 
and to gain eternal glory. 1 St. Bernard says that were 
there no other reason for giving ourselves entirely to 
God, it would be enough to know that God has given 
himself entirely to us. 2 But to give ourselves to God 
without reserve, it is necessary to banish from the* heart 
every earthly desire. " Wherever charity is augmented," 
says St. Augustine, " there cupidity is diminished. Free 
dom from all cupidity is perfection." 1 He who least 
desires the goods of the earth, loves God most; he who 
desires nothing, loves God perfectly. 

In the preceding instruction we have spoken of in 
terior mortification: we shall now speak of external 
mortification, or the mortification of the senses. This 
species of mortification is also necessary, because on 
account of sin our flesh wars, as the Apostle said of 
himself, against reason, and is an enemy to our salva 
tion: I see another law in my members, fighting against the 
law of my mind? " That is," says St. Thomas in his 
comment on this passage, " the concupiscence of the flesh 
that is struggling with reason." It is necessary to 
understand that the soul must bring the body under 
subjection, or the body will trample on the soul. God 
has given us senses that we employ them, not as we 
please, but as he directs; hence we must mortify the 
desires that are contrary to the divine law. 

They that are Christ s have crucified their flesh, with the 

1 " Jactura felix! contemptu universorum, Christus sequendus est, et 
aeternitas comparanda." In Matth. can. 16. 

2 " Integrum te da illi, quia ille, ut te salvaret, integrum se tradidit." 
De Modo bene. viv. c. 8. 

3 " Nutrimentum charitatis est imminutio cupiditatis; perfectio, nulla 
cupiditas." De div. qucest. q. 36. 

4 "Video autem aliam legem in membris meis, repugnantem legi 
mentis mese." Rom. vii. 23. 

5 " Id est concupiscentia carnis contrarians rationi." 

364 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

vices and concupiscences. Hence the saints have been so 
careful to macerate the flesh. St. Peter of Alcantara 
purposed never to give any indulgence to the body, and 
observed his resolution till death. St. Bernard mal 
treated his body to such a degree, that at death he asked 
its pardon. St. Teresa used to say that "it would be 
silliness to imagine that God admits to his friendship 
persons who seek their own ease and convenience;" 3 
and in another place she says: "Souls that truly love 
God cannot ask for comforts." ! And St. Ambrose has 
written that he who does not cease to indulge the 
body shall cease to please God. 4 According to St. 
Augustine, he who subjects reason to. the flesh is a mon 
ster that walks with his head downwards and his feet 
upwards. 5 We are born for a more noble end than to 
be the slaves of the body, said the pagan Seneca. 6 How 
much more should we say it, who know by faith that 
we have been created to enjoy God for eternity? St. 
Gregory says that by gratifying the desires of the flesh 
we only nourish enemies. 7 

St. Ambrose weeps over the misfortune of Solomon, 
saying that this unhappy king had the glory of building 
the temple of God, but that it would have been far bet 
ter for him to preserve to God the temple of his body, 
for the gratification of which he lost his body, his soul, 
and his God. 8 A man mounted on a furious horse must 

1 " Qui autem sunt Christi, carnem suam crucifixerunt cum vitiis et 
concupiscentiis." Gal. v. 24. 

2 Way of Per f. ch. 19. 3 Foundat. ch. 5. 

4 " Qui nori peregrinatur a corpora, peregrinatur a Domino." In 
L^lc. c. 9. 

5 "Inversis pedibus ambulat." Ad Fr. in er. s. 50. 

6 Major sum et ad majora genitus, quam ut mancipium sim mei 
corporis." Ep. 65. 

1 " Dum (carni) parcimus, ad praelium hostem nutrimus." Mor. 1. 
30, c. 28. 

8 "Salomon templum Deo condidit; sed utinam corporis templum 
pse servasset!" Apol. David. 1. 2, 

INSTR. ix] Exterior Mortification. 365 

always keep the reins tight: it is thus we must treat the 
body. St. Bernard says that we ought to treat the flesh 
as a physician treats a patient who seeks what is noxious 
and refuses what is conducive to health. Were a phy 
sician, in order to please a sick man, to give him what 
should cause his death, would he not be guilty of 
cruelty? And in like manner, let us be persuaded that 
to indulge the body is not charity, but the greatest act 
of cruelty we can commit against ourselves; because, 
for a momentary indulgence of the flesh, we condemn 
the soul to an eternity of torments. Such is th&language 
of St. Bernard: " Such a charity destroys charity; such 
mercy is full of cruelty; for in such a manner the body 
is served, but the soul is destroyed." 1 In a word, we 
must change our palate, and follow the admonition of 
our Lord to St. Francis: "If you desire -me, take what 
is bitter as sweets, and what is sweet as bitter." 

Let us now attend to the fruits of external mortifica 

First, it satisfies for the pains due to the pleasures in 
which we have indulged: these pains are far milder in 
this than in the next life. St. Antonine relates that an 
angel proposed to a sick man the choice of remaining 
three days in purgatory, or of being confined for two 
years to his bed by the infirmity under which he labored. 
The sick man chose the three days in purgatory; but he 
was scarcely an hour there when he began to complain 
to the angel that his purgatory, instead of continuing 
for three days, had lasted for several years. What! re 
plied the angel, your body is still warm on the bed of* 
death, and you speak of years! " If you do not wish to 
be punished," says St. John Chrysostom, " be your own 
judge chastise and amend yourself." 2 

1 " Ista charitas destruit charitatem; talis misericordia crudelitate 
plena est, qua ita corpori servitur, utanima juguletur." Apol. ad GuilL 

2 " Non vis castigari; sis judex tui ipsius, te reprehende et corrige." 

366 Material for Instriictions. [PART n. 

Secondly, mortification detaches the soul from earthly 
pleasures, and gives her a facility of flying to God, and 
of uniting herself with him. St. Francis de .Sales used 
to say that " if the flesh is not mortified and depressed, 
the soul will never be able to raise herself up to God." 
St. Jerome has said the same: "Only by mortification 
can the soul rise to heavenly things." 

Thirdly, penance merits for us eternal goods, as St. 
Peter of Alcantara revealed from heaven to St. Teresa, 
saying: " O happy penance that has merited for me so 
much glory!" 2 

Hence the saints have endeavored to mortify the flesh 
continually, and to the best of their ability. St. Francis 
Borgia said that he would die without consolation on 
any day on which he had not mortified his body by 
some penitential work. A life of ease and pleasure on 
this earth cannot be the life of a Christian. 

Practice of Exterior Mortification. 

If we have not fervor to mortify the body by great 
penances, let us at least practise some little mortifica 
tions: let us bear with patience the pains that happen 
to us. For example, let us submit in peace to the in 
convenience, the want of sleep, the disagreeable smell 
that we feel in attending the dying, to the annoyance 
we experience in going to hear the confessions of per 
sons confined in prison, in hearing the confessions of 
the poor and the ignorant, and to similar occasions of 
pain or trouble. Let us at least deprive ourselves from 
time to time of some lawful pleasure. Clement of 
Alexandria says: "Whoever does everything that is 
allowed will soon do what is not allowed." : He who 

" Anima in coelestia non surgit, nisi mortificatione membrorum." 

2 " O felix poenitenda, qua; tantam mihi promeruit gloriani!" 

3 " Cito adducuntur, ut ea faciant quae non licent, qui faciunt omnia 
quae licent." Picdag. 1. 2, c. I. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 367 

wishes to indulge in all gratifications that are in them 
selves lawful, will not abstain long from unlawful 
pleasures. That great servant of God, Vincent Carafa, 
of the Society of Jesus, used to say that God has given 
us earthly goods not only for our delight, but also that 
we might have a means of showing our gratitude to him 
by abstaining from pleasures, and giving him back his 
own gifts in proof of our love; for, as St. Gregory 
writes, 1 he who is accustomed to renounce lawful grati 
fications easily abstains from forbidden pleasures. 

Let us speak of the mortifications of the senses, that 
we can practise, and especially of the mortifications of 
the eyes, the taste, and the touch. 


First, it is necessary to mortify the eyes. " Through 
the eyes," says St. Bernard, " the dart of impure love 
enters the heart." 2 The first darts that wound, and 
sometimes kill, the chaste soul, enter through the eyes. 3 
By means of the eyes bad thoughts spring up in the 
mind. " What is not seen," says St. Francis de Sales, 
"is not desired." Hence the devil first tempts a person 
to look, then to desire, and afterwards to consent. Thus 
he acted with the Saviour himself: He showed Him all 
the kingdoms of the world. He then tempted him, saying: 
All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore 
me* The evil spirit gained nothing by tempting Jesus 
Christ, but by thus tempting Eve he gained a great 
deal: She saw that the tree was good to cat, and fair to the 
eyes, . . . and she took of the fruit thereof* etc. 

1 Dial. 1. 4, c. II. 

2 "Per oculos intrat ad mentem sagitta amoris." De Modo bene 
viv. s. 23. 

8 " Oculus meus depraedatus est animam meam." Lam. iii. 51. 

4 " Haec omnia tibi dabo, si cadens adoraverisme." Matth. iv. 9. 

5 " Vidit igitur mulier quod bonum esset lignum ad vescendum, et 
pulchrum oculis, aspectuque delectabile; et tulit de fructu iliius, et 
comedit." Gen. iii. 6. 

368 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

Tertullian says that certain little glances are the be 
ginnings of the greatest iniquities. 1 And St. Jerome 
compares the eyes to certain hooks, which drag us, as 
it were, by force to sin. 2 He who wishes not to admit 
the enemy into the fortress, should lock the gate. The 
Abbot Pastor was molested by bad thoughts for forty 
years after having looked at a woman. In consequence 
of having seen a woman in the world, St. Benedict was 
afterwards so strongly tempted, that to conquer the 
flesh he threw himself naked among thorns, and thus 
overcame the temptations. While he lived in the cave 
of Bethlehem, St. Jerome was for a long time troubled 
with bad thoughts on account of having formerly seen 
certain women in Rome. These saints conquered temp 
tations by the divine aid, by prayers and penitential 
works; but many others, on account of the eyes, have 
miserably fallen. On account of the eyes a David fell; 
on account of the eyes a Solomon fell. Listen to an 
alarming fact related by St. Augustine of Alipius. He 
went to the theatre, resolved not to look at any danger 
ous object, saying, " I will be absent though present;" 5 
but being tempted to look, he, says the saint, not only 
prevaricated, but also made others prevaricate: "He 
opened his eyes, applauded, became excited, and left the 
theatre carrying sin with him."^ 

Seneca justly said that blindness is a great help to 
preserve innocence. 5 It is not lawful to pull out our 
eyes, but we ought to make ourselves blind by closing 
the eyes, and by not looking at objects which may im 
pel us to evil: He . . . that shutteth his eyes that he may 

1 " Exordia sunt maximarum iniquitatum." 

2 " Oculi, quasi quidam raptores ad culpam." In Lam. 3. 

3 " Adero absens." 

" Spectavit, clamavit, exarsit; abstulit inde secum insaniam." 
Conf. 1. 6, c. 8. 
6 " Pars innocentiae, caecitas." DC Rented, fort. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 369 

see no evil, he shall dwell on high. 1 Hence Job said that 
he had made a covenant with his eyes never to look at 
a woman, lest he should be afterwards molested by bad 
thoughts: / made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not 
so much as think upon a virgin? 1 St. Aloysius Gonzaga 
never dared to raise his eyes to look at his mother. St. 
Peter of Alcantara abstained from looking even at his 
brothers in religion: he knew them not by the sight, but 
by the voice. 

The Council of Tours tells priests that they should 
guard against everything that can offend the eyes or the 
ears. 3 But particular caution is necessary for secular 
priests, who frequent public places, or the houses of 
seculars. If they permit the eye to look at every object 
that is presented to them, they shall scarcely preserve 
chastity. Turn away thy face, says the Holy Ghost, 
from a woman dressed up, . . . for many have perished by 
the beauty of a woman. 1 And, says St. Augustine, should 
the eyes happen sometimes to fall on a woman, let us 
take care never to fix them on her. 5 Hence it is neces 
sary to abstain from going to balls, or profane come 
dies, which are frequented by men and women; and 
when through necessity a priest is obliged to go to a 
place in which there are women, he must pay special 
attention to modesty of the eyes. Father Alvarez was 
once present at a public degradation of a priest, but be 
cause there were women present, he held in his hand an 

1 " Qui claudit oculos suos ne videat malum, iste in excelsis habi- 
tabit." Is a. xxxiii. 15. 

J " Pepigi foedus cum oculis meis, ut ne cogitarem quidem de vir- 
gine." Job, xxxi. i. 

3 "Ab omnibus quaecunque ad aurium ct ad oculorum pertinent 
illecebras, Dei Sacerdotes abstinere debent." Anno 813, can. 7. 

Averte faciem tuam a muliere compta, et ne circumspicias speciem 
alienam; propter speciem mulieris, multi perierunt." Ecclns. ix. 8. 

5 " Oculi vestri, etsi jaciuntur in aliquam, figantur in nullam." Reg. 
ad serv. D . n. 6. 

370 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

image of the Blessed Virgin, on which he kept his eyes 
constantly fixed for several hours, lest they might fall 
on a woman. From the moment we awake in the morn 
ing, let us pray with David: Turn away my eyes, that they 
may not behold vanity. 1 

Oh! how profitable is it to us ecclesiastics, and how 
edifying to others, to keep the eyes cast down! St. 
Francis once said to his companion, that he wished to 
go out in order to preach a sermon: he went out and 
walked through the village with his eyes fixed on the 
ground. After they had returned, his companion asked 
when he intended to preach the sermon. The saint re 
plied: We have already preached by the modesty with 
which we walked before the people. A certain author 
remarks that the Evangelists, in order to show that he 
ordinarily kept them cast down, mention in several 
places that our Redeemer raised his eyes: Lifting iip His 
eyes on His disciples? When Jesus had lifted up His eyes? 
Hence St. Paul has praised the modesty of Jesus Christ, 
saying: I beseech you by the mildness and mode sty of Christ? 

St. Basil says that we should keep the eyes cast down 
upon the earth and the soul raised up to heaven. 5 And 
St. Jerome has written, that the countenance is the mir 
ror of the soul, and that chaste eyes indicate a chaste 
heart." But, on the other hand, St. Augustine says: 
"The immodesty of the eyes betrays the vices of the 
heart." 7 St. Ambrose adds, that the motions of the body 

1 " Averte oculos meos, ne videant vanitatem." Ps. cxviii. 37. 

2 " Elevatis oculis in discipulos suos." Lttke, vi. 20. 

3 "Cum sublevasset ergo oculos Jesus." John., vi. 5. 

4 " Obsecro vos per mansuetudinem et modestiam Christi." 2 Cor. 
x. i. 

5 " Oportet oculos habere ad terram dejectas, animam vero ad cce- 
lum erectam." Scrm. de A see si. 

6 " Speculum mentis est fades, et taciti oculi cordis fatentur arcana." 
Ep . ad Fu ria m . 

1 " Impudicus oculus irnpudici cordis est nuntius." J?eg. ad serv. 
D. n. 6. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 3 7 1 

show the recollection or dissipation of the soul. 1 Hence 
the saint relates that ,he foreboded the fall of two men 
on account of the irregularity of their gait. The pre 
diction was verified; for one fell into impiety, and the 
other into heresy. Speaking especially of men whose 
character is sacred, St. Jerome says that their actions, 
language, and gesture are a lesson for seculars. 2 

The Council of Trent has said: " They ought by all 
means so to regulate their whole life and conversation, 
as that in their dress, comportment, gait, discourse, and 
all things else, nothing appear but what is grave, regu 
lated, and replete with religiousness." 2 And St. John 
Chrysostom has written: " The mind of the priest should 
be resplendent with virtues, that it may enlighten those 
that look up to him." Thus the priest ought to give 
to all an example of modesty in all things: modesty in 
looks, modesty in his gait, modesty in his conversation, 
particularly by saying little, and by speaking as a priest 
ought to speak. By saying little. He who speaks much 
to men, shows that he converses but little with God. 
Men of prayer are men of few words. When the mouth 
of the furnace is opened, the heat rushes out. " In 
silence," says Thomas a Kempis, " the soul maketh prog 
ress." 5 And St. Peter Damian calls silence the guardian 
of justice." We read in Isaias: In silence and in hope 
shall your strength be." 1 In silence consists our strength, 

1 " Vox quaedam est animi, corporis motus." Offic. 1. I, c. 18. 
2 "Quorum habitus, sermo, vultus, incessus, doctrina virtutum est." 
Ep. ad Rusticum. 

3 " Sic decet omnino clericos vitam moresque suos componere, ut 
habitu, gestu, incessu, nil nisi grave ac religione plenum prse se fer- 
ant." Sess. 22, de Ref. c. i. 

4 " Sacerdotis animum splendescere oportet, ut illustrare possit, 
qui oculos in eum conjiciunt." De Sacei d. 1. 3. 

5 " In silentio proficit anima." De Imit. 1. i, c. 20. 

6 " Gustos justitiae, silentium." Ep. 1. 7, ep. 6. 

7 " In silentio et in spe erit fortitude vestra." Isa. xxx. 15. 

372 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

for in speaking much there is always some defect. In 
the multitude of words there shall not want sin, says Solo 
mon. 1 By speaking as a priest ought to speak, St. 
Anselm says, " Thy mouth must be the mouth of Christ: 
and thou shouldst not only not open it for calumnies or 
lies, but not even for idle discourse." 2 He who loves 
God seeks to speak always of God. He who loves a 
fellow-man can scarcely speak of anything else than of 
him. " Forget not," says Gilbert, " that thy mouth is 
consecrated only to heavenly sayings, and look upon 
it as sacrilegious if something comes forth from it that 
is not divine." 3 It is, according to St. Ambrose, a 
violation of modesty to speak in a very loud tone. 4 It 
belongs to modesty to abstain, not only from immodest 
words, but also from listening to them: Hedge in thy 
ears with thorns, hear not a wicked tongue? A priest should 
be modest also in his dress. St. Augustine says that 
in order to appear well dressed exteriorly, some strip 
themselves of interior modesty. 6 Vanity and costliness 
of dress in a priest show that there is but little virtue 
in the soul. St. Bernard writes: " The poor cry out to 
thee: To us belongs what you waste; from our neces 
sities is withdrawn what you bestow upon vanities." 
In the i6th Canon of the second Council of Nice we 

1 " In multiloquio non deerit peccatum." Prov. x. 19. 
* " Os tuum, os Christi; non debes, non dico, ad detractiones, ad 
mendacia, sed nee ad otiosos sermones os aperire." Medit. i, 5. 

3 "Memento, os tuum coelestibus oraculis consecratum; sacrilegium 
puta, si quid non divinum sonet." In Cant. s. 18. 

4 " Vocis sonum libret modestia, ne cujusquam offendat aurem vox 
fortior." Offic. 1. i, c. 18. 

6 " Sepi aures tuas spinis, linguam nequam noli audire." Ecchis. 
xxviii. 28. 

6 " Ut foris vestiaris, intus exspoliaris." Sertn. 60, E, B. 

1 " Clamant nudi, etdicunt: Nostrum est, quod effunditis; nostris 
necessitatibus detrahitur, quidquid accedit vanitatibus vestris." De 
Mor. et Off. Ep. c. 2. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 373 

read: "A priest should wear simple garments, for what 
goes beyond what is necessary is luxury, and this vanity 
will be imputed to him as a crime." The priest ought 
to be modest in his hair. Pope Martin ordained that 
ecclesiastics should not minister in the church unless 
their head was shorn so that the ears would be visible. 2 
What shall we say of those whom Clement of Alex 
andria calls " illiberales tonsos," 3 that is, persons who 
are so much attached to their hair that they allow it to 
be cut only sparingly. What a shame, says St. Cyprian, 
for an ecclesiastic to appear with his head decked out 
like the head of a woman. 4 And before him the Apos 
tle, in his epistle to the Corinthians, said, that to 
nourish the hair is as disgraceful in a man as it is be 
coming in a woman: A man indeed if he nourish his hair, 
it is a shame unto him? And this he said of all, even of 
seculars. What, then, must we think of the ecclesiastic 
who curls his hair and arranges it in a worldly fashion ? 
Minutius Felix says that we ought to show ourselves 
to be ecclesiastics, not by the ornaments of the body, 
but by examples of modesty. 6 St. Ambrose has writ 
ten, that the deportment of a priest should be such 
that all who behold him may be inspired with reverence 
for God, whose priest and minister he is. 7 But, on the 

1 "Virum sacerdotalem cum moderate indumento versari debere; 
et quidquid, non propter usum, sed ostentatorium ornatum, assumi- 
tur, in nequitise reprehensionem incurrere." Can. 16. 

2 " Nisi attonso capite, patentibus auribus." 

3 " Illiberali tonsu se tondentes." Padag. 1. 3, c. 3. 

4 " Capillis muliebribus se in feminas transfigurant. " DC Jej. ct 
Tent. Christi. 

5<< Vir quidem, si comam nutriat, ignominia est illi." i Cor. xi. 

6 " Nos, non notaculo corporis, sed innocentiae ac modestise signo, 
facile dignoscimus." Octav. c. 9. 

7 " Decet actuum nostrorum esse publicam aestimationem, ut, qui 
videt ministrum altaris congruis ornatum virtutibus, Dominum vene- 
retur, qui tales servulos habeat." Ojfic. 1. i, c. 50. 

3 74 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

other hand, a priest who violates modesty excites 
irreverence towards God. 


We shall now speak on the mortification of the taste 
or of the appetite. In his treatise entitled The One 
Thing Necessary, Father Rogacci says, that the principal 
part of external mortification consists in the mortification 
of the appetite. Hence St. Andrew Avellino used to 
say, that he who wishes to walk in the way of perfection 
must begin to mortify the taste. St. Leo asserts that 
this has been the practice of the saints. 1 To a penitent 
who practised but little mortification St. Philip Neri 
said, " My son, unless you mortify the appetite you shall 
never become a saint." 2 St. Francis Xavier used to eat 
nothing but a few grains of toasted rice. St. John 
Francis Regis took only a little coarse flower boiled in 
water. St. Francis Borgia, even when a secular, and 
viceroy of Catalonia, was content with bread and herbs. 
The food of St. Peter of Alcantara was nothing more 
than a small quantity of broth. 

St. Francis de Sales says that we ought to eat in order 
to support life, and not live for the purpose of eating. 
Some appear to live for the sole purpose of eating, mak 
ing, as the Apostle said, the belly their God: They are 
enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose 
God is their belly? Tertullian says that the vice of 
gluttony kills, or at least inflicts a deep wound, on all 
other virtues. 4 The sin of gluttony has caused the ruin 

1 " Tyrocinium militise christianae sanctis jejuniis inchoarunt." DC 
Jejun. Pent. s. i. 

2 Bacci, 1. 2, ch. 14. 

3 " Inimicos crucis Christi, quorum finis interitus, quorum deus 
venter est." Phil. iii. 18. 

4 " Omnem disciplinam victus aut occidit aut vulnerat." De Je- 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 375 

of the world: for the sake of eating an apple, Adam 
brought death on himself and the entire human race. 

But priests, who are bound by a vow of chastity, 
should pay special attention to the mortification of the 
appetite. St. Bonaventure says that excess in eating 
nourishes impurity. 1 And St. Augustine has written: 
" If the soul is weighed down by too much food, the 
mind becomes torpid, and there will spring up thorns of 
wicked desires," 2 Hence in the forty-second Canon of 
the Apostles we read: "Those priests are to be deposed 
that are given excessively to good cheer." ; The Wise 
Man has said, that he who accustoms servants to deli 
cate food shall not find them obedient to his commands: 
He that nourishes a servant delicately from his childhood, 
afterwards shall find him stubborn* St. Augustine exhorts 
us not to give the flesh strength to fight against the 
soul.* Palladius relates that a certain monk being asked 
why he treated his body so badly, said: " I trouble him 
that troubles me." 6 St. Paul has done and said the 
same. / chastise my body, and bring it into subjection. If 
the flesh is not mortified, it obeys reason only with diffi 
culty. But, on the other hand, according to St. Thomas, 
the devil, when vanquished in his temptations to the in 
dulgence of the appetite, ceases to tempt to impurity. 8 
Cornelius a Lapide says that when intemperance is 

1 " Luxuria nutritur a ventris ingluvie." De Prof. rel. 1. 2, c. 52. 

2 " Si ciborum nimietate anima obruatur, illico mens torpescit, et 
corporis nostri terra spinas libidinum germinabit." Serm. 141, E. B. 

3 " Sacerdotes qui intemperanter ingurgitant, deponendi sunt." 

4 " Qui delicate a pueritia nutrit servum suum, postea sentiet eum 
contumacem." Prov. xxix. 21. 

5 " Ne praebeamus vires corpori, ne committat bellum adversus 
spiritum." DC Sal. docum. c. 35. 

6 " Vexo eum qui vexat me " Vit. S. M. c. 7. 

7 " Castigo corpus meum, et in servitutem redigo." I Cor. ix. 27. 

8 " Diabolus, victus de gula, non tentat de libidine." 

376 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

overcome, all other vices are easily conquered. Blosius 
remarks that many find it easier to conquer other vices 
than the vice of intemperance. 2 

But some may say God has purposely created the 
various kinds of food that we may enjoy them. I 
answer, God has created them that they may serve for 
the support of life, but not to be abused by intemper 
ance. There are some delicious meats that are not neces 
sary for the support of life; these God has created, that 
by sometimes abstaining from them we may practise 
mortification. God created the apple that he forbade 
Adam to eat, that Adam might abstain from it. Let us 
at least practise temperance in the use of delicacies. 

To practise temperance, St. Bonaventure says that 
we must avoid four things: first, eating out of the time 
of meals, as animals do; secondly, eating with too much 
avidity, like famished dogs; thirdly, eating too large a 
quantity, of food; and fourthly, we must avoid too much 
delicacy. 3 What a shame to see a priest seeking a 
variety of meats, dressed in various ways, and giving 
trouble and annoyance to servants, and to the whole 
house, when everything is not prepared so as to please 
his taste. Fervent priests are satisfied with what is 
placed before them. 

Reflect on the words of St. Jerome: " The cleric can 
not easily escape contempt if he frequently accepts 
invitations to dinner." Hence exemplary priests fly 

1 " Gula debellata, christianus facilius caeteravitia profligabit." In 
I Cor. ix. 2J. 

2 " Ingluvies a plerisque superari difficilius solet, quam caetera 
vitia." Enchir. parv. 1. i, doc. n. 

3 " i. Ante debitum tempus, vel saepius quam deceat, comedere, 
praeter necessitatem, more pecudum. 2. Cum nimia aviditate, sicut 
canes famelici. 3. Nimis se implere ex delectatione. 4. Nimis ex- 
quisita quaerere." De Prof. rcl. 1. i, c. 36. 

4 " Facile contemnitur clericus qui, saepe vocatus ad prandium, ire 
non recusat." Ep. ad Ntpot, 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 377 

from banquets, in which, ordinarily speaking, there is a 
want of modesty and of temperance. " Lay people," 
adds the holy Doctor, " would rather enjoy our consola 
tions in their trials than our presence at their ban 


Thirdly, with regard to the sense of touch, it is neces 
sary, in the first place, to abstain from familiarity with 
persons of the opposite sex, even though they are rela 
tives. You will say: They are my sisters, my nieces; 
yes, but they are women. 

With regard to this sense (which is very dangerous 
for priests), they must use all possible caution and mod 
esty with themselves. Everyone of you, says St. Paul, 
should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and 
honor, . . . not in the passion of lust? 

Holy priests are accustomed to practise some painful 
penitential works, such as the discipline, or the use of 
little chains. Some despise these things, saying that 
sanctity consists in the mortification of the will. But I 
find that all the saints have thirsted after penitential 
austerities, and have sought to macerate the flesh to the 
utmost of their power. St. Peter of Alcantara wore a 
hair-shirt of punched iron, which kept his shoulders 
constantly lacerated. St. John of the Cross wore a 
waistcoat armed with iron points, and an iron chain, 
which could not be removed after his death without 
taking with it a piece of the flesh. This saint used to 
say that a person who should teach lax doctrine re 
garding the mortification of the flesh ought not to be 
believed, even though he confirmed it by miracles. 3 

1 " Consolatores nos potius (laici) in moeroribus suis, quam con- 
vivas in prosperis, noverint." 

2 " Sciat unusquisque vestrum vas suum possidere in sanctificatione 
et honore, non in passione desiderii." I J^hess. iv. 4. 

3 Sent. 72. 

3 78 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

It is true that interior mortification is the most neces 
sary; but exterior mortification is also indispensable. 
To a person who wished to dissuade him from macer 
ating his body, by saying that sanctity consists in con 
quering self-will, St. Aloysius Gonzaga replied, in the 
words of the Gospel: These things you ought to have done, 
and not leave those undone. 1 To Mother Mary of Jesus, 
of the Order of St. Teresa, our Lord said the world is 
destroyed not by penitential works, but by pleasures. 

" Mortify your body and you will conquer the devil 
says St. Augustine. 2 The remedy of the saints, particu 
larly in temptations against purity, was the maceration 
of the flesh. In temptations contrary to chastity, St. 
Benedict and St. Francis rolled themselves among 
thorns. Father Rodriguez says, " If a person had en 
twined round him a serpent, which by its poisoned 
bites would seek to kill him, surely if he could not take 
away its life he would at least endeavor to draw its 
blood and diminish its strength, in order to render it 
less able to injure him." 

Job tells us that wisdom is not found among earthly 
delights: Man knoweth not the price thereof, neither is it 
found in the land of them that live in delights* In one 
place the Spouse in the Canticles said that he dwells 
on the mountain of myrrh: / will go to the mountain of 
myrrh;* and in another, that he feeds among the lilies: 
Who feedeth among the lilies? In reconciling these two 
passages, Philibert says that on the mountain of myrrh, 
where the flesh is mortified, the lilies of purity spring 

1 " Haec oportuit facere, et ilia non omittere." Matth. xxiii. 23. 

2 " Mortifica corpus tuum, et diabolum vinces." 

3 " Nescit homo pretium ejus, nee invenitrr in terra suaviter viven- 
tium." Job, xxviii. 13. 

4 " Vadam ad montem myrrhae." Cant. iv. 6. 
6 " Qui pascitur inter lilia." Cant. ii. 16. 

INSTR. ix.j Exterior Mortification. 379 

up and flourish. 1 Should a person have ever violated 
chastity, reason requires that he should afterwards 
chastise the flesh: For as you have yielded your members to 
serve uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield 
your members to serve justice unto sanctification? 


If we have not courage to mortify the flesh by works 
of penance, let us at least endeavor to accept with 
patience the mortifications arising from the infirmities, 
the heat and cold, that God sends us. St. Francis Bor 
gia once arrived late at a college of the Order, and was 
obliged to remain all night in the open air, exposed to 
the cold and snow. In the morning the Fathers of 
the college were afflicted at what had happened; but 
the saint said he was greatly consoled by thinking that 
God had sent the wind, the frost, and snow. " Hasten, 
O Lord," says St. Bonaventure, " hasten to wound Thy 
servants with Thy sacred wounds, lest they be wounded 
by deadly wounds of vice." 1 This we, too, should say 
when we are afflicted with sickness and pains: Lord, 
chastise me with these healing wounds, that I may be 
freed from the deadly wounds of the flesh; or let us 
say with St. Bernard: "It is just that he should be 
bowed down and become sad who has despised Thee, O 
Lord! " Yes, my God, it is just that I who have in 
sulted you should suffer affliction: I have been con- 

1 " Lilia haec oriuntur in monte myrrhae, et nusquam magis illsesa 
servantur: ubi carnis mortificantur affectus, ibi lilia castimonise 
nascuntur et florent." In Cant. s. 28. 

5 " Sicut enim exhibuistis membra vestra servire immunditiae et 
iniquitati ad iniquitatem, ita nunc exhibete membra vestra servire 
justitiae in sanctificationem." Rom. vi. 19. 

3 "Curre, Domine, curre, et vulnera servos tuos vulneribus sacris, 
ne vulnerentur vulneribus mortis." 

4 " Conteratur contemptor Dei; si recte sentis, dices: Reus est 
mortis, crucifigatur." Medit c. 15. 

3 80 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

demned to eternal death; let me, then, be crucified in 
this life, that I may not be tormented for eternity in the 

Let us at least bear the pains that God sends us. A 
certain author well observes, that a person who does not 
embrace voluntary pains will scarcely bear involuntary 
sufferings with perfect patience. And, on the other 
hand, St. Anselm says: " God will cease to chastise the 
sinner who voluntarily punishes himself for his sins." 1 

The Good that is derived from a Mortified Life. 

Some imagine that a life of mortification is an un 
happy life. No: the life of the man who practises 
mortification is not unhappy; but the life of him who 
indulges his senses so as to offend God is truly miser 
able: Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace ? 2 A soul 
in sin is a sea agitated by the tempest: The wicked are 
like the raging sea, which cannot rest? St. Augustine says 
that the man who is not in peace with God is an enemy 
that wages war against himself. 4 The gratifications 
that we give the body fight against us, and make us un 
happy: From whence are wars and contentions amongst 
you ? Are they not hence- from your concupiscences, which 
war in your members ? B 

On the other hand, the Lord says: To him that ovcr- 
cometh, I will give the hidden manna? To them who prac- 

1 " Cessat vindicta divina, si conversio praecurrat humana." In 
i Cor. ii. 

2 " Quis restitit ei, et pacem habuit ?" Job, ix. 4. 

3 " Impii autem, quasi mare fervens, quod quiescere non potest." 
Isa. Ivii. 20. 

4 " Ipse sibi est bellum, qui pacem noluit habere cum Deo." 
Enarr. in Ps. 75. 

6 " Unde bella et lites in vobis ? nonne hinc, ex concupiscentiis 
vestris, quae militant in membris vestris ?" James, iv. i. 
6 " Vincenti dabo manna absconditum." Apoc. ii. 17. 

INSTR. ix.i Exterior Mortification. 381 

tise mortification God gives that sweetness and peace 
that are hidden from the unmortified, and that surpass 
all sensual pleasures: The peace of God, which surpasseth 
all under st~nding} Hence they who live dead to earthly 
delights are pronounced happy: Blessed are the dead who 
die in the Lord? Worldlings regard as miserable the life 
of those who live at a distance from sensual gratifica 
tions. They see the Cross, but not its interior unction? says 
St. Bernard; they see the mortifications of the saints, but 
not the interior consolations with which God caresses 
them, even in this life. The promises of God cannot 
fail: Take up My yoke upon you, . . . and you shall find rest 
to your souls." Ah! the soul that loves God suffers not 
in her mortifications. He who loves, finds nothing diffi 
cult, says St. Augustine/ " Love," says a certain author, 
" blushes at the word difficulty." As nothing resists 
death, so nothing resists love: Love is as strong as death? 
If we wish to acquire eternal delights, we must de 
prive ourselves of temporal pleasures: He that will save 
his life shall lose it? Hence St. Augustine says: " Be 
ware of enjoying yourself in this life, lest you suffer 
eternally." 8 St. John saw all the saints with palms in 
their hands. 10 To be saved, we must all be martyrs, 
either by the sword of the tyrant or by voluntary 
mortification. Let us reflect that all we suffer is nothing 

" Pax Dei, quse exsuperat omnem sensum." Phil. iv. 7. 

2 " Beati mortui, qui in Domino moriuntur." Apoc. xiv. 13. 

3 " Crucem videntes, sed non etiam unctionem." In Dedic. s. I. 

4 " Tollite jugum meum super vos, . . . et invenietis requiem 
animabus vestris." Matth. xi. 29. 

5 "Qui amat, non laborat." In Jo. tr. 48. 

6 "Amor, difficultatis nomen erubescit." Lign. v. de Char. c. 4. 

7 " Fortis est ut mors dilectio." Cant. viii. 6. 

8 " Qui enim voluerit animam salvam facere, perdet earn." Matth. 
xvi. 25. 

9 " Noli amare in hac vita, ne perdas in aeterna vita." In Jo. tr. 51. 

10 " Stantes ante thronum, . . . et palrrue in manibus eorum." 
Apoc. vii. 9. 

382 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

compared with the eternal glory which awaits us: The 
sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the 
glory to come, that shall be revealed in us? The transitory 
pains of this life shall merit for us eternal beatitude: For 
that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, 
worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of 
glory? Hence Philo the Jew has written: " The pleas 
ures which we give the body to the detriment of the 
soul are thefts of the glory of heaven, which we com 
mit against ourselves." On the other hand, St. John 
Chrysostom says that when God gives us an occasion of 
suffering, he bestows a greater grace than if he gave us 
power to restore life to the dead. 4 He assigns the rea 
son, saying: " For the miracles I am a debtor to God, 
and by suffering with patience I have Christ as my 
debtor." The saints are the living stones that com 
pose the heavenly Jerusalem: As living stones built up, a 
spiritual house! But these must be first polished by the 
chisel of mortification, as is sung by the Church: 
Many a blow and biting sculpture 

Polished well those stones elect, 
In their places now compacted 

By the heavenly Architect. " 7 

1 " Non sunt condignse passiones hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam 
quae revelabitur innobis." Rom. viii. 18. 

8 " Id enim quod in prsesenti est momentaneum et leve tribulationis 
nostrse, supra modum in sublimitate seternum gloria pondus operatur 
in nobis." 2 Car. iv. 17. 

3 " Oblectamenta praesentis vitae, quid sunt, nisi furta vitse futurae?" 

4 " Quando Deus dat alicui ut mortuos resuscitet, minus dat, quam 
cum dat occasionem patiendi." 

b " Pro miraculis enim, debitor sum Deo; ut pro patientia, debitorem 
habes Christum." In Phil. horn. 4. 

6 " Tamquam lapides vivi superaxlificamini, domus spiritualis." i 
Pet. ii. 5. 

7 "Scalpri salubris ictibus, 

Et tunsione plurima, 
Fabri polita malleo, 
Hanc saxa molem construunt." Off. Dcdic. Eccl. Hymn. 

INSTR. ix.] Exterior Mortification. 383 

Hence every act of mortification is a work for heaven. 
This thought will sweeten all the bitterness we shall 
feel in mortification: The just man liveth by faith. 1 To 
live well, and obtain salvation, we must live by faith, 
that is, in view of the eternity which awaits us: Man 
shall go into the house of his eternity? Let us consider, 
says St. Augustine, that at the very time when the Lord 
exhorts us to combat against temptations, he assists us, 
and prepares a crown for us. 3 Speaking of wrestlers, 
the Apostle said, that they abstain from everything that 
can be an obstacle to their winning a miserable tem 
poral crown; how much more ought we to die to all 
things in order to acquire an infinite and eternal crown: 
Every one that strivcth for the mastery refraineth himself 
from all things ; and they indeed that they may receive a 
corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one." 

1 " Justus autem ex fide vivit." Rom. i. 17. 

2 " Quoniam ibit homo in domum aeternitatis suae." Eccles. xii. 5. 

3 " Deus hortatur ut pugnes, et deficientem sublevat, et vincentem 
coronal." In Ps. 32, enarr. 2. 

4 " Omnis autem qui in agone contendit, ab omnibus se abstinet; et 
illi quidem utcorruptibilemcoronamaccipiant, nos autem incorruptam." 
i Cor. ix. 25. 

384 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 



Special Obligation for the Priest to belong Entirely to God. 

PETER DE BLOIS says that a priest without divine 
love "may be called a priest but is not a priest." 1 
From the day of his ordination a priest is no longer his 
own, but belongs to God. St. Ambrose has said: "A 
true minister of the altar is in the world for God and not 
for himself." 2 And before him God himself said: They 
offer the burnt-offering of the Lord, and the bread of their 
God, and therefore they shall be holy:" Origen has called a 
priest "a being consecrated to God." From his very 
entrance into the ecclesiastical state the priest declared 
that he wished for no other portion than God. 5 If, 
then, adds St. Ambrose, God is the portion of the priest, 
he should live only for God. 6 Hence the Apostle has 
said, that he who is devoted to the service of the divine 
majesty should not engage in worldly affairs, but 
should seek only to please him to whom he has given 
himself: No man being a soldier to God, entangleth himself 
with secular business; that he may please Him to Whom he 

1 " Sacerdos dici potes, esse nonpotes." Scrm. 41. 

2 " Verus minister altaris Deo, non sibi, natusest." In Ps. 118, s. 8. 

3 " Incensum enim Domini et panes Dei sui offerunt, et ideo sancti 
erunt." Levit. xxi. 6. 

4 " Mens consecrata Deo." In Lev. horn. 15. 

5 " Dominus pars hereditatis meae. " 

6 " Cui Deus portio est, nihil debet curare, nisi Deum." De Esau, 

C. 2. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 385 

hath engaged himself } Jesus Christ forbade the young 
man who wished to become one of his disciples to re 
turn home for the purpose of burying his father: Fol 
low Me, and let the dead bury the dead? This lesson was, 
as the same St. Ambrose writes, directed to all eccle 
siastics, to teach them that it is their duty to prefer 
the concerns of the divine glory to all human affairs, 
which may be an obstacle to their belonging entirely to 
God. 3 

Even in the Old Law, God declared to the priests 
that he had chosen them from among the people that 
they might be his without reserve. Hence he told 
them that they should have no possession, no portion 
among seculars, because he himself wished to be their 
portion and inheritance: You- shall possess nothing in their 
land, neither shall you have a portion among them: I am thy 
portion and inheritance in the midst of the children of 
Israel? On this passage Oleaster writes: " O priest! 
understand what great happiness God has conferred 
upon thee by wishing to have thee as his inheritance. 
And what can be wanting to thee if thou possesses! 
God ?" E The priest, then, should say with St. Augus 
tine: " Let others choose for their portion temporal 
things; God is my portion." 

1 " Nemo, militans Deo, implicat se negotiis ssecularibus, ut ei 
placeat, cui se probavit." 2 7 i?u. ii. 4. 

2 " Sequere me, et dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos." 
Matth. viii. 22. 

3 "Hie paterni funeris sepultura prohibetur, ut intelligas humana 
posthabenda divinis." In Luc. c. 9. 

4 " In terra eorum nihil possidebitis, nee habebitis partem inter eos; 
ego pars et hereditas tua in medio filiorum Israel." Num. xviii. 20. 

5 " Magna dignatio Domini, si earn, Sacerdos, cognoscas: quod velit 
Deus esse pars tua. Quid non habebis, si Deum habeas ?" 

6 " Eligant sibi alii partes, quibus fruantur, terrenas et temporales; 
portio sanctorum, Dominus aeternus est. Bibant alii mortiferas volup- 
tates; portio calicis mei, Dominus est." Enarr^ in Ps. 15. 


386 Material for Instructions. LPART n. 

And, says St. Anselm, if we love not God, what shall 
we love? 1 The Emperor Diocletian placed before St. 
Clement gold, silver, and precious stones, in order to 
induce him to deny the faith: seeing his God put in 
comparison with a little dust, the saint heaved a sigh of 
sorrow: But one thing is necessary? He who possesses 
all things without God, has nothing; but he who pos 
sesses God without anything else, has all things. Hence, 
St. Francis had reason to say, and to repeat, as he did 
for an entire night, My God, and my all. Happy, then, is 
he who can say with David: For what have I in heaven ? 
and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth ? . . . God is 
my portion forever* My God, neither in heaven nor on 
earth do I wish for anything but Thee. Thou art, and 
shall be always, the Lord of my heart, and my only 

God deserves to be loved for his own sake, because 
he is an object worthy of infinite love: but we should 
love him, at least, through gratitude for the infinite 
love he has shown in the benefit of redemption. What 
more could God do for us, than become man and die 
for us ? Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay 
down his life for his friends." Before redemption, men 
could doubt if God loved them with a tender love; but 
how can they doubt it after having seen him dead on a 
cross for the love of them. This has been, as it was 
called by Moses and Elias on Mount Thabor, an excess 
of love: And they spoke of His decease [excess] that He 
should accomplish in Jerusalem? An excess that all the 

1 " Si non amavero te, quid amabo?" Mcdit. 13. 

2 " Unum est necessarium." Luke, x. 42. 

3 "Quid enim mihi est in coelo? et a te quid volui super terram ? 
. . . Deus cordis mei, et pars mea Deus in aeternum." Ps. Ixxii. 25. 

4 " Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat 
quis pro amicis suis." John, xv. 13. 

5 " Dicebant excessum ejus, quern completurus erat in Jerusalem. "- 
Litkc, ix. 31. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 387 

angels shall not be able to comprehend for all eternity. 
Who among men, says St. Anselm, could deserve that a 
God should die for him? 1 But it is certain that this 
Son of God has died for each of us: Christ died for all. 
The Apostle writes, that when the death of our Saviour 
was preached to the Gentiles it appeared to them 
foolishness: We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews in 
deed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness? It 
was neither foolishness nor a lie, but a truth of faith, 
a truth which, as St. Laurence Justinian says, makes a 
God appear to us foolish through love for man. 4 O 
God, if Jesus Christ wished to show his love for his 
eternal Father, could he give him a more convincing 
proof than by dying on a cross, as he has died, for each 
of us? I say more: If a servant had died for us, could 
we but love him ? But where is our love and gratitude 
towards Jesus Christ? 

Let us at least frequently remember what our Re 
deemer has done and suffered for us. They who fre 
quently remember his Passion give great pleasure to 
Jesus Christ. If a person submitted to insults, wounds, 
and imprisonment for the sake of a friend, how great 
should his gratification be at hearing that the friend 
frequently remembered and thought of his sufferings. 
Ah! the soul that frequently thinks on the Passion of 
Jesus Christ, and on the love that that enamoured God 
has shown us in his pains and humiliations, cannot but 
feel herself chained to his love: The charity of Christ 
presseth us. b But if all should burn with love for Jesus 

1 "Quisdignus erat ut Filius Dei mortem pro eo pateretur?" DC 
Mensura Cruc. c. 2. 

2 " Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus." 2 Cor. v. 15. 

3 " Praedicamus Christum crucifixum, Judseris qu-idem scandalum, 
Gentibus autem stultitiam." I Cor. i. 23. 

4 " Vidimus Sapientiam amoris nimietate infatuatam." Serm. de 
Nat. D. 

5 " Charitas em m Christi urget nos." 2 Cor. v. 14, 

388 Material for Instructions [PART n. 

Christ, we priests should love him with a special love; 
for Jesus Christ has died in a special manner to make 
us priests: for, as has been said in Chapter I., without 
the death of Jesus Christ we should not have the 
holy and immaculate victim that we now offer to 
God. Justly, then, has St. Ambrose said: "Although 
Christ has suffered for all, he has especially suffered 
for us. But he that receives more, owes more. Let 
us render love to him for the blood that he has shed 
for us." J 

Let us endeavor to understand the love that Jesus 
Christ has shown us in his Passion, and we shall cer 
tainly renounce the love of creatures, " Oh, if you 
knew the mystery of the cross!" 2 said the Apostle St. 
Andrew to the tyrant who tempted him to deny Jesus 
Christ. As if he said, O tyrant! if you knew the love 
that your God has for you, and his desire for your sal 
vation, you would certainly cease to tempt me, and 
through gratitude for so much love, you would devote 
yourself to his love. 

Happy, then, the man who keeps constantly before 
his eyes the wounds of Jesus Christ! You shall draw 
waters with joy out of the Saviour s fountains? Oh, what 
waters of devotion, what lights and affections, do the 
saints draw from these fountains of salvation! Father 
Alvarez used to say, that the ignorance of the riches 
that we have in Jesus Christ is the cause of the ruin of 
Christians. The learned boast of their science, but the 
Apostle gloried in nothing but in the knowledge of Jesus 
Christ crucified: For I judged not myself to know anything 

1 " Etsi Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, pro nobis tamen specialitcr 
passus est. Plus debet, qui plus accepit; reddamus ergo amorem pro 
sangoiinis pretio." In Ltic. c. 7. 

3 " Oh! si scires mysterium Crucis!" 

z " Haurietis aquas in gaudio de fontibus Salvatoris." Isa. xii. 3. 

4 " Non enim judicavi me scire aliquid inter vos, nisi Jesum Chris 
tum, et hunc crucifixum." I Cor. ii. 2~. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 389 

among y on, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified? Of what 
advantage are all sciences to him who knows not how 
to love Jesus Christ ? And if . . . I should know . . . all 
science, said the same Apostle, and have not charity, I am 
nothing. 1 In another place he said that to gain Jesus 
Christ he esteemed all things as dung: I count all things 
to be but loss, and count them but as dung, that I may gain 
Christ? Hence he gloried in calling himself the prisoner 
of Jesus Christ: /, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ? 

Oh, happy the priest who, bound by these holy 
chains, gives himself entirely to Jesus Christ! God 
loves a soul that gives herself entirely to him, more than 
he does a hundred imperfect souls. If a prince had a 
hundred servants, ninety-nine of whom served him with 
little affection, always giving him some displeasure, and 
had one that served him through pure love, always 
seeking to please him to the utmost of his power, surely 
the prince would love that faithful servant more than 
all the others: There are young maidens without number \ 
One is my dove, my perfect one? The Lord loves the soul 
that serves him perfectly, as if he had no other to love 
but her. St. Bernard says: " Learn from Christ how to 
love Christ." 5 From his birth Jesus Christ has given 
himself entirely to us: For a Child is born to us, and a 
Son is given to us. 6 And he has given himself through 
love: Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself 

1 " Et si noverim omnem scientiam, charitatem autem non habuero 
nihil sum." i Cor. xiii. 2. 

2 " Omnia detrimentum feci, et arbitror ut stercora, ut Christum 
lucrifaciam." Phil. iii. 8. 

3 " Ego Paulus, vinctus Christi Jesu." Eph. iii. i. 

4 " Adolescentularum non est numerus; una est columba mea, per- 
fecta mea." Cant. vi. 7. 

5 " Disce a Christo quemadmodum diligas Christum. 5 In Cant. s. 


6 " Parvulus enim natus est nobis. et filius datus est nobis." Isa. ix. 

390 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

for us? It is just, then, that we also through love give 
ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ. He, says St. John 
Chrysostom, has given himself without reserve to you, 
bestowing upon you his blood, his life, his merits. 2 It is 
but just that you, too, give yourself without reserve 
to Jesus Christ, says St. Bernard. 3 

But if this holds for all, it applies in a special manner 
to priests. Hence, addressing particularly the priests 
of his Order, St. Francis of Assisi, knowing the special 
obligation of a priest to belong entirely to Jesus Christ, 
said: " Keep nothing back of yourselves, so that he who 
offers himself entirely may also receive you." 4 The 
Redeemer has died for all, that each may live no longer 
to himself, but only to that God who has given his life 
for him: Christ died for all; that they also, who live, may 
not now live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them: 1 
Oh that each of us would continually say to God with 
St. Augustine: " May I die to myself that I may live 
only for Thee!" 1 But to belong entirely to God, we 
must give him our whole, .undivided love, says St. 
Augustine. 7 He cannot belong entirely to God who 
loves anything which is not God, or loves it not for 
God, continues St. Augustine. " Let your soul," cries 
out St. Bernard, "be one, that you may serve God 
alone." Ah! redeemed soul, divide not your love 

1 " Dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis." Eph. v. 2. 

2 " Totum tibi dedit, nihil sibi reliquit." 

3 " Integrum te da illi, quia ille, ut te salvaret, integrum se tradidit." 
DC Modo bene viv. c. 8. 

4 " Nihil de vobis retineatis vobis, ut totos vos recipiat; qui se vobis 
exhibet totum." 

5 " Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus, ut et qui vivunt, jam non sibi 
vivant, sed ei qui pro ipsis mortuus est." i Cor. v. 15. 

6 " Moriar mihi, ut tu solus in me vivas." 

7 "Minus te amat, qui tecum aliquid amat, quod non propter te 
amat." Conf. 1. 10, c. 29. 

8 " Anima, sola esto, ut soli te serves." In Cant. s. 40. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 391 

among creatures; keep yourself alone for that God who 
alone merits all your love. It was this that Blessed 
Egidius meant by the words una, uni, that is, the one 
soul which we have, we ought not to divide, but give 
entirely to that one God whose love for us exceeds the 
love of all others, and whose claims to our love surpass 
the claims of all. 


Means to be Employed for belonging Entirely to God. 

Let us now see what a priest must do in order to be 
long entirely to God. First of all, he must have a great 
desire of sanctity: For the beginning of her is the most 
true desire of discipline. 1 Holy desires are the wings with 
which souls fly to God: But the path of the just, as a 
shining light, goeth forward, and increaseth even to perfect 
day? The way of the just is like the light of the sun, 
which from his rising increases as he advances in his 
course; but, on the other hand, the light of sinners, like 
that of the evening, constantly grows more dim, until it 
is entirely lost, so that the miserable beings no longer 
see where they are going: The way of the wicked is dark 
some; they know not where they fall? 

Miserable, then, the man who is content with his con 
duct, and seeks not to advance. " Not to advance is to 
go backward," 4 says St. Augustine. And St. Gregory 
has said, 5 he who remains in a river without making an 
effort to make way against the current, shall be carried 

1 " Initium enim illius, verissima est discipline concupiscentia." 
Wisd. vi. 1 8. 

2 " lustorum autem semita, quasi lux splendens. procedit et crescit 
usque ad perfectam diem." Prov. iv. 18. 

" Via impiorum tenebrosa; nesciunt ubi corruant." Ib. 19. 

4 " Non progredi, reverti est." Ep. 17, E. B. app. 

5 Past. p. 3, c. i. 

39 2 Material for Instructions. LPART n. 

back by it. Hence St. Bernard said to a tepid soul, 
" You do not wish to advance. You will then go back 
ward." Are you unwilling to advance? Then you 
wish to go backward. You perhaps will answer: I wish 
to remain as I am, neither better nor worse. But this 
is impossible. " This," adds the saint, " is what cannot 
be done." 2 This cannot be, since Job has said, that 
man never continueth in the same state? To win the prize 
that is, the eternal crown, we must run till we obtain 
it: So run that you may obtain? He who ceases to run, 
shall lose all his labor and the crown of glory. 

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice? For, 
as the divine mother said, God fills with his graces the 
souls that desire to become saints. He hath filed the 
hungry with good things. Mark the words, the hungry, those 
that hunger? But to become a saint, a simple desire 
is not enough: a strong desire, and a certain hunger 
after sanctity, are necessary. As flame runs through a 
dry reed, so they who have this blessed hunger do not 
walk, but run in the way of virtue. The just shall shine, 
and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. 1 Who, 
then, shall become a saint ? He who wishes to become 
one: If thou wilt be perfect, go, etc. 8 But he must w r ish 
for sanctity with true humility. The tepid Christian, 
as the Wise Man says, also wills, but not with a sincere 
will. He desires, and always desires, but his desires 
bring him to destruction; for he feeds on them, and in 

" Non vis proficere; vis ergo deficere." 
" Hoc ergo vis, quod esse non potest." Ep. 254. 
" Nunquam in eodem statu permanet." Job, xiv. 2. 
" Sic currite, ut comprehendatis." i Cor. ix. 24. 
" Beati, qui esuriunt et sitiunt justitiam." MatlJi. v. 6. 
" Esurientes implevit bonis." Magnif. 

" Fulgebunt justi, et tanquam scintillse in arundineto discurrent. " 
Wisd. iii. 7. 

8 " Si vis perfectus esse, vade . . . ." Matth. xix. 21. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 393 

the mean time goes from bad to worse: The sluggard 
willeth and willeth not. 1 Desires kill the slothfid? 

Wisdom, that is sanctity, is easily found by them who 
seek it: It is found by them that seek her? But to find sanc 
tity it is not enough to desire it; we must desire it with a 
determined will to attain it: If you seek, seek* says Isaias. 
He who desires sanctity with a resolute will of acquiring 
it, easily attains it. " Not with the feet of the body," 
says St. Bernard, "but with the desires of the soul; is 
God sought." 5 And St. Teresa has written: "Let our 
thoughts be great; from great thoughts our advance 
ment shall come. Our desires must not be low and 
grovelling, but we must trust in God; that, gradually 
doing violence to ourselves, we shall, with the divine 
grace, arrive at the sanctity which the saints have at 

Open thy mouth wide, says the Lord, and I will fill it} 
A mother cannot give suck to an infant if it open not 
its mouth to take the milk. Open thy mouth wide; that 
is, says St. Athanasius, "Increase thy desires." By 
holy desires the saints have arrived at perfection in a 
short time: Being made perfect in a short time, he fulfilled 
a long time* This was verified particularly in St. 
Aloysius Gonzaga, who in a few years attained such 
sublime sanctity, that to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, 
who saw him in bliss, it appeared that his glory was 
scarcely surpassed by that of any of the saints. And 

" Vult et non vult piger." Prov. xiii. 4. 
2 " Desideria occidunt pigrum." Prov. xxi. 25. 

8 " Invenitur ab his qui quaerunt illam." Wisd. vi. 13. 

4 " Si quaeritis, quaerite." 7sa. xxi. 12. 

5 " Non pedum passibus, sed desideriis quseritur Deus." In Cant. 
s. 84. 

6 Life, ch. 13. 

7 " Dilata os tuum, et implebo illud." Ps. Ixxx. n. 
" Dilata desiderium tuum." 

9 " Consummatus in brevi, explevit tempora multa." Wisd. iv. 13. 

394 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

she was told that he attained to such glory by the ardor 
with which he desired, during life, to love God as much 
as he deserved to be loved. 

Desires, says St. Laurence Justinian, give strength to 
the soul, and render labor light. 1 Hence the saint adds, 
that he who has an ardent desire of victory has already 
conquered. 2 St. Augustine has said: "For him that 
labors, the road is narrow; for him that loves, it is wide." 3 
To him who has but little love for sanctity, the way is 
narrow and difficult to be trodden; but he who ardently 
loves perfection, finds the way broad, and walks in it 
without labor. The broadness, then, of the way is 
found not in the way, but in the heart; that is, in a de 
termined will to please God: I have run the way of Thy 
commandments , when Thou didst enlarge my heart.* Blosius 
says that the Lord is not less pleased by holy desires 
than by ardent love. 5 

He that has not the desire of becoming a saint, let 
him at least ask it of God, and God will give it to him. 
And let us be persuaded that to become a saint is not 
difficult to him who desires it. In the world it is diffi 
cult for a vassal to obtain the friendship of his sovereign, 
however ardently he may desire it, but, said the courtier 
of the emperor mentioned by St. Augustine, to obtain 
the friendship of God it is enough to wish for it: " Be 
hold, if I wish I am instantly his friend!" And St. 
Bernard has written that a man cannot have a greater 

1 "Vires subministrat, poenam exhibet leviorem." DC Disc. won. 
c. 6. 

2 " Magna victorise pars est vincendi desiderium." De Casto Conn. 
c. 3. 

3 " Laboranti ant>usta via est, amanti lata." In Ps. 30, en. 2.. 

4 " Viam mandatorum tuorum cucurri, cum dilatasticor meum." Ps. 
cxviii. 32. 

5 " Deus non minus sancto desiderio Isetatur, quam si anima amore 

6 " Amicus Dei, si voluero, ecce nunc fio." Conf. 1. 8, c. 6. 

INSTR. x.i The Love of God. 395 

proof of being the friend of God, and of enjoying his 
grace, than when he desires greater grace in order to 
please God. 1 And, adds the saint, it matters not that 
he should have been a sinner, for " God attends not to 
what a man has done, but to what he wishes to be." : 


Secondly, the priest who wishes to be a saint, must do 
all his actions for the sole purpose of pleasing God. 
All his words, thoughts, desires, and actions must bean 
exercise of divine love. The spouse in the Canticles 
assumed at one time the character of a fowler; at an 
other, of a warrior; now a gardener; again, a cultivator 
of the vine; but in all these occupations she presented 
the appearance of a lover, because she did all for the 
love of her spouse. So, in like manner, all the words, 
thoughts, sufferings, actions, of a priest, whether he 
says Mass or hears confessions, or preaches, or medi 
tates, or assists the dying, or mortifies the flesh, or 
whatever else he does, should all proceed from the same 
love; for he ought to do all in order to please God. 

Jesus Christ has said: If thy eye be single, thy whole body 
shall be lightsome* By the eye the holy Fathers have 
understood the intention. Then, says St. Augustine, 
" The intention makes the work good." 4 The Lord said 
to Samuel: Man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord 
beholdeth the heart? Men are satisfied with the works that 
they see, but God, who beholds the heart, is not content 
with any work unless he sees it performed with a view 

1 " Nullum omnino prsesentire ejus certius testimonium est, quam 
desiderium gratiae amplioris." De S. Anctr. s. 2. 

2 " Non attendit Deus quid fecerit homo, sed quid velit esse." 

3 " Si oculus tuus fuerit simplex, totum corpus tuum lucidum erit." 
Matth. vi. 22. 

4 " Bonum opus intentio facit." In Ps. 21, en. 2. 

5 " Homo enim videt ea quae parent; Dominus autem intuetur cor." 
I Kings, xvi. 7. 

396 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

to please himself. I will offer up to Thee holocausts full 
of marrow? says David. Works performed without the 
proper intention, are victims without marrow, which 
God rejects. In the oblations made to him he regards 
not the value of the offering, but the affection with 
which it is presented. " God," says Salvian, " looks not 
so much at the value of the offering as at the disposition 
with which it is offered." 5 Of our Saviour it was justly 
said: He hath done all things well* For in all his actions 
he sought only the pleasure of his eternal Father: / 
seek not my own will, but the will of Him that sent me* 

But, alas! only few of our works are perfectly pleasing 
to God; because few are done without some desire of 
our own glory. " It is rare," says St. Jerome, " to find a 
faithful soul that never acts out of vain-glory." 8 How 
many priests on the day of judgment shall say to Jesus 
Christ: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied, and cast out 
devils in Thy name, and done many miracles in Thy name ? 8 
Lord, we have preached, we have celebrated Masses, we 
have heard confessions, we have converted souls, we 
have assisted the dying. The Lord shall answer: / 
never knew you : depart from Me, you that work iniquity? 
He shall say: Begone, I have never known you as my 
ministers, for you have not labored for me, but for your 
own glory or interest. 

Hence Jesus Christ exhorts us to conceal the works 

1 " Holocausta medullata off e ram tibi." Ps. Ixv. 15. 

2 " Oblata Deo, non pretio, sed affectu placent." Adv. Avarit. 1. i. 

3 " Bene omnia fecit." Mark, vii. 37. 

4 " Non quaero voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem ejus qui misit me." 
John, v. 30. 

5 " Rarum est, fidelem animam inveniri, ut nihil ob gloriae cupidita- 
tem facial." Dial. adv. Lnciferianos. 

6 " Domine, nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, et in nomine tuo 
daemonia ejecimus, et in nomine tuovirtutes multas fecimus?" Matth. 
vii. 22. 

7 "Nunquam novi vos; discedite a me, qui operamini iniquitatem." 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 397 

which we perform: Let not thy left hand know what thy 
right hand doth? The Son of God tells us to conceal our 
works, that, as St. Augustine remarks, what we do for 
God may not be afterwards lost through vanity. 2 God 
abominates rapine in the holocaust: / the Lord . . . 
hate robbery in a holocaust? By rapine is meant precisely 
the seeking of our own glory, or of self-interest in the 
works of God. He who truly loves, says St. Bernard, 
merits a reward, but does not seek it: the only recom 
pense that he demands is to please the God whom he 
loves. 4 In a word, as the same saint says in another 
place, " True love is content with itself;" 5 that is, with 
being love, and demands nothing more. 

The marks by which a priest may know whether he 
acts with a pure intention are the following: i. If he 
loves works that are attended with greater incon 
venience and less glory. 2. If he preserves peace when 
he has not attained the object that he proposed. He 
who works for God has already attained his end, which 
is to please God; and, on the other hand, he who is dis 
turbed when he fails in the attainment of his object 
shows that he has not labored solely for God. 3. If he 
rejoices in the good done by others as if it had been 
done by himself, and entertains no jealousy when others 
engage in the works that he performs, but desires to see 
all laboring to give glory to God, and says with Moses: 
Oh that all the people might prophesy /" 

The days of the priest who performs all his actions 

1 " Nesciat sinistra tua quid faciat dextera tua." Matth. vi. 3. 

y " Quod facit amor Dei, non corrumpat vanitas." Serm. 63, E. B. 

" Ego Dominus, . . . odio habens rapinam in holocausto." Isa. 
Ixi. 8. 

4 " Verus amor prsemium non requirit, sed meretur; habet prsemium, 
sed id quod amatur." De dil. Deo, c. 7. 

5 " Verus amor seipso contentus est." 

6 " Quis tribuat ut omnis populus prophetet!" Num. xi. 20,. 

398 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

for God are full days: And full days shall be found in 
them. 1 But of them who act for a selfish end, it is said 
that they do not reach even the half of their days: De 
ceitful men shall not live out half their days? Hence St. 
Eucherius of Lyons has written, that we ought to con 
sider ourselves to have lived only on the day on which 
we have denied our own will. 3 

Seneca says that he who makes us a small present 
through love, imposes on us a greater obligation than 
another who bestows great favors upon us through a 
motive of self-interest. 4 Certainly the Lord is more 
pleased by a trifling act performed in order to do his 
will, than by the most splendid works done for our own 
satisfaction. Of the poor widow who gave two mites in 
the temple, Jesus Christ said that she gave more than 
all the others: This poor widow hath cast in more than all* 
On this passage St. Cyprian says: " The Lord does not 
regard how much is given, but with what sentiments it 
is given." ( The Lord regarded not the sum, but the 
affection with which it was given. 

The Abbot Pambo, seeing a woman decked out in 
costly ornaments, began to weep. Being asked the 
cause of his tears, he said: " O God! how much more 
does this woman do to please men than I do to please 
God !" In the Life of St. Louis, king of France, it is 
related that a Father of the Order of St. Dominic, who 
was going to court, asked a woman whom he saw with 

1 " Et dies pleni invenientur in eis." Ps. Ixxii. 10. 
3 " Dolosi non dimidiabunt dies suos." Ps. liv. 24. 

3 " Ilium tantum diem vixisse te computa; in quo voluntates pro- 
prias abnegasti." Ad Monach. horn. 9. 

4 " Magis nos obligat, qui exiguum dedit libenter, quam qui, non 
voluntatem tantum juvandi habuit, sed cupiditatem." De Benefic. 1. I, 
c. 7. 

5 " Vidua haec pauper plus omnibus misit." Mark, xii. 43. 

6 " Considerans, non quantum, sed ex quanto dedisset." De Oge et 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 399 

a lighted torch in one hand and a vessel of water in the 
other, why she carried these things; she answered: With 
this torch I wish to burn heaven, and with this water I 
desire to extinguish hell, that God may be loved solely 
because he deserves all love. Oh, happy the priest who 
labors only to please God! He who seeks only to please 
God imitates the souls in heaven, who, as the angelic 
Doctor says, " wish that He rather than themselves 
should be happy." They rejoice more in the felicity 
of God than in their own happiness, because they love 
him more than themselves. 


Thirdly, the priest who wishes to be holy must be 
ready to suffer in peace for God all things poverty, 
dishonor, infirmity, and death. The Apostle says: You 
bear God in your body? In his comment on this text, 
Gilbert says: "Jesus Christ wishes to be carried by us 
in peace and joy. He who carries him with tediousness 
or complaint, carries not, but drags him by force." : 
The love that a soul bears- to God is shown in em 
bracing not delights, but insults and sufferings. This 
we learn from the words of our Redeemer when he 
went to meet the soldiers who came to capture him, in 
order to put him to death: But that the world may know 
that I love the Father. . . . Arise, let us go hence. 1 Hence 
the saints in imitation of Jesus Christ, have gone with 
joy to embrace torments and death. St. Joseph of 
Leonessa, a capuchin, was once obliged to undergo a 

1 " Anima potius vult ipsum esse beatum, quam seipsam esse bea- 
tam." De Bcatit. c. 7. 

2 " Glorificate et portate Deum in corpora vestro." i Cor. vi. 20. 

3 " Portari vult a nobis Christum, sed gloriose, non cum taedio, non 
cum murmure; portari, non trahi: trahenti enim onerosus est Christus." 
In Cant. s. 17. 

4 " Ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, . . . surgite, eamus 
hinc." John ^ xiv. 31. 

4OO Material for Instructions. LPART n. 

painful operation. When some persons present spoke 
of binding him with cords, he took the crucifix into his 
hands and said: "What cords! what cords!" My Lord, 
who was nailed to the cross for my sake, binds me 
sufficiently to endure all pain for the love of him. Thus 
he bore the incision without complaint. St. Teresa 
said: u Who is there that can behold his Lord covered 
with wounds, and persecuted by enemies, without being 
willing to embrace and desirous of suffering every 
tribulation?" 1 St. Bernard writes: "To him who loves 
his crucified God, insults and pains are very accept 
able." 2 

The Apostle says that in patience particularly we 
priests should make ourselves known as the ministers of 
Jesus Christ: Let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of 
God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in dis 
tresses, . . . in labors? Thomas a Kempis has written: 
"When the day of judgment cometh, it will not be 
asked of us what we have read, but what we have 
done." 4 Many men of learning are acquainted with 
many things, but know not how to bear anything for 
God; and what is worse, they are incapable of under 
standing the great fault which they commit by their 
impatience. Who have eyes, and see not* says the Prophet 
Jeremias. What does learning profit the man who has 
not charity? says St. Paul. And if ... / should know 
all mysteries and all knowledge, . . . and have not charity, I am 

1 Life, ch. 26. 

2 " Grata ignominia crucis ei qui Crucifixo ingratus non est." /;/ 
Cant. s. 25. 

3 " Exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros in multa patientia, 
in tribulation ibus, in necessitatibus, in angustiis, ... in laboribus . . ." 
2 Cor. vi. 4. 

4 " Adveniente die judicii, non quaerettir quid legimus, sed quid feci- 
mus." De Imit. Chr. 1. i, c. 3. 

5 " Habentes oculos non videtis." Jer. v. 21. 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 401 

nothing? But, as the same Apostle has observed, Charity 
beareth all things? He who wishes to become a saint 
must suffer persecution. All that live godly in Christ Jesus 
shall suffer persecution? And before him our Saviour 
said : If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute 
you? The life of a saint cannot, says St. Hilary, be a 
life of quiet and tranquillity: it must be often disturbed 
by contradictions and tried by patience. 5 The Lord 
chastises those whom he accepts for his children: For 
whom the Lord loveth, He chastiseth: and He scourgcth every 
son whom He receive th* Such as I love I rebuke and 
chastise? And why ? Because patience tries the love 
and perfect fidelity of a soul: Patience hath a perfect work? 
It was this that the Archangel Raphael meant to say to 
holy Tobias: Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was 
necessary that temptation should prove thee? 

Sometimes we shall be reproved for a fault which we 
have not committed; but "what matter?" says St. 
Augustine; "we ought to accept the reproof in atone 
ment for other sins to which we have consented." Let 
us attend to the words of holy Judith, who says that in 
this life chastisements come from God, not for our de- 

1 " Et si . . . noverim mysteria omnia et omnem scientiam, chari- 
tatem autem non habuero, nihil sum." I Cor. xiii. 2. 

2 " Charitas omnia suffert." 

3 " Et omnes qui pie volunt vivere in Christo Jesu, persecutionem 
patientur." 2 Tim. iii. 12. 

4 " Si me persecuti sunt, et vos persequentur." John, xv. 20. 

5 " Non otiosa aetas religiosi viri est, neque quietam exigit vitam; 
impugnatur saepe, et haec sunt quae fidem probant." In Ps. cxxviii. 

6 " Quern enim diligit Dominus, castigat; flagellat autem omnem 
filium quern recipit." Heb, xii. 6. 

7 " Ego, quos amo, arguo et castigo." Apoc. iii. 19. 

6 " Patienlia autem opus perfectum habet." James, i. 4. 

9 " Quia acceptus eras Deo, necesse fuit ut tentatio probaret te." 
Tob. xii. 13. 

10 Etsi non habemus peecatum quod nobis objicit inimicus, habemus 
tamen alterum, quod digne in nobis flagellatur." In Ps. 68, s. I. 


402 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

struction, but that we may amend, and thus escape 
eternal vengeance : They have happened for our amendment, 
and not for our destruction. 1 If, then, on account of past 
sins, we find ourselves debtors to the divine justice, we 
should not only accept with patience the tribulations 
that befall us, but should also pray with St. Augustine: 
" Here burn, here cut, here do not spare, that Thou 
mayest spare us in eternity." 5 

Job said: If we have received good things at the hand of 
God, why should we not receive evil? 3 He said this because 
he well knew that we gain far more by patiently accept 
ing the evils, that is, the tribulations of this life, than 
we do by temporal blessings. But whether we will or 
not, we must suffer the miseries of this life: he who 
bears them with patience merits heaven, but he who is 
impatient under them also suffers from them, but lays 
up merits for hell, says St. Augustine. 4 Speaking of 
the good and the wicked thief, the same saint says: 
"The cross united them; the manner of carrying the 
cross separated them." 5 Both suffered death, but one 
of them, because he accepted it with patience, was 
saved; the other, because he blasphemed in his suffer 
ing, was lost. St. John the Apostle saw that the saints 
who were in the enjoyment of the beatific vision came 
not from the delights of the earth, but from tribulations: 
These are they who are come out of great tribulation; . . . 
therefore they arc before the throne of God? 

1 " Ad emendationem, et non ad perditionem nostram, evenisse cre- 
damus." Judith, viii. 27. 

2 " Hie ure, hie seca; hie non parcas, ut in aeternum parcas." 

3 " Si bona suscepimus de manu Dei, mala quare non suscipiamus ?" 
Job, ii. 10. 

4 Una eademque tunsio bonos perducit ad gloriam, males redigit 
in favillam." Scrm. 52, E. B. app. 

5 " Quos passio jungebat. causa separabat." Ep. 185, E. B. 

6 " Hi sunt qui venerunt de tribulatione magna; . . ideo sunt ante 
thronum Dei." Apoc. vii. 14. 

INSTR. x.j The Love of God. 403 


Fourthly and lastly, he who wishes to be a saint 
must wish only what God wishes. All our good con 
sists in uniting ourselves to the will of God: And life in 
His good-will? St. Teresa says: "All that he who prac 
tises mental prayer should seek, is to conform his will 
to the divine will; let him be assured that in this con 
sists the highest perfection." 5 All that the Lord de 
mands of us is, that we give him our heart; that is, our 
will: My son, give Me thy heart? St. Anselm says that 
God asks and, as it were, begs our heart; and when 
cast off, he does not depart, but repeats his petitions^ 4 

The most acceptable offering, then, that we can pre 
sent to God is the oblation of our will, saying with the 
Apostle: Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ? 5 Hence St. 
Augustine has written: "We can do nothing more 
pleasing than to say to him, Do Thou possess us." The 
Lord said that he had found in David a man according 
to his own heart. And why? Because David fulfilled 
all his divine wills: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a 
man according to my own heart? Let us endeavor to say 
always with David: Teach me to do Thy will.* Lord, 
teach me to do nothing but what Thou wiliest. Hence 
we must frequently offer ourselves to God, saying with 

1 " Et vita in voluntate ejus." Ps. xxix. 6. 

2 Int. Castle, d. 2, ch. i. 

3 " Praebe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi." Prov. xxiii. 26. 

4 " Nonne tu es Deus meus, qui tarn crebro pulsas et mendicas ad 
ostium nostrum, dicens: Prsebe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi? imo, et 
saepe repulsus, te iterum ingeris " De Metis, cntc. c. 5. 

5 " Domine, quid me vis facere ?" Acts, ix. 6. 

6 " Nihil gratius Deo possumus offere, quam ut dicamus ei: Posside 
nos." In Ps. 131. 

7 " Inveni David, filium Jesse, virum secundum cor meum, qui faciet 
omnes voluntates meas." Acts, xiii. 22. 

8 " Doce me facere voluntatem tuam." Ps. cxlii. 9. 

404 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

the same holy prophet: My heart is ready, O God! my 
heart is ready ^ 

But we must remember that our merit consists in em 
bracing the divine will, not so much in things that are 
pleasing to us, as in those that are opposed to self-love. 
Jn these we show the strength of the love we bear to 
God. The Venerable John d Avila used to say, that a 
single Blessed be God, in things that are opposed to our 
inclination, is of greater value than six thousand acts of 
thanksgiving in what is agreeable to us. And here it 
is necessary to understand that all that befalls us hap 
pens through the will of God, says St. Augustine. 2 This 
is the meaning of the words of Ecclesiasticus: Good 
things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from 
God? Thus when a person offends us, God wills not 
his sin, but he wills that we bear with the insult. When 
our reputation or property is taken away, we must say 
with holy Job: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken 
away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done! 4 

He who loves the will of God enjoys continual peace 
even in this life. Delight in the Lord, and He will give 
thee the requests of thy heart, said David. 5 Our heart, 
which has been created for an infinite good, cannot be 
satisfied by all creatures which are finite; and therefore, 
though it should possess all goods but God, the heart is 
not content; it always seeks after new enjoyments: but 
when it finds God, it possesses all things he satisfies 
all its demands. Hence our Lord said to the Samaritan 

1 " Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum." Ps. Ivi. 8. 

2 " Quidquid hie accidit contra voluntatem nostram, noveritis non 
accidere nisi de voluntate Dei." In Ps. 148. 

3 " Bona et mala, vita et mors, paupertas et honestas, a Deo sunt." 
Ecdus. xi. 14. 

4 " Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit; sicut Domino placuit, ita 
factum est; sit nomen Domini benedictum!" Job, i. 21. 

5 " Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui." Ps. 
xxxvi. 4. 

. x.] The Love of God. 405 

woman: He that shall drink of the water that I will give 
him, shall not thirst forever? And in another place he 
said: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, 
for they shall have their fill? Hence he who loves God 
is not afflicted at anything that happens: Whatsoever 
shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad* For 
the just man knows that whatever occurs, happens to 
him by the will of God. If, says Salvian, the saints are 
humbled, they wish for the humiliation; if they are 
poor, they rejoice in their poverty; in a word, they wish 
only what their God wishes, and therefore they enjoy 
continual peace. 4 In afflictions it is lawful to pray to 
be delivered from them, as Jesus Christ did in the gar 
den: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from 
Me? But we must also add with the Redeemer: Never 
theless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. 

It is certain tliat what God wills is best for us. 
Father John d Avila once wrote to a sick priest: 
" Friend, think not of what you would do if you were 
in health, but be content to remain sick as long as it 
shall please God. If you seek the will of God, is it not 
as profitable to you to be sick as to be in health ?" 6 We 
must be resigned in all things, even in the temptations 
by which we are impelled to offend God. The Apostle 
besought the Lord to deliver him from the many temp 
tations which he suffered against chastity: There was 
given me a sting of my flesh. . . . For which thing thrice I 

" Qui autem biberit ex aqua quam ego dabo ei, non sitiet in aeter- 
num. "/<?//, iv. 13. 

2 " Beati, qui esuriunt et sitiunt justitiam, quoniam ipsi satura- 
buntur." Matth. v. 6. 

3 " Non contristabit justum, quid quid ei accident." Prov. xii. 21. 

4 " Humiles sunt, hoc volunt; pauperes sunt, pauperie delectantur; 
itaque beati dicendi sunt/ De Gub. Dei, 1. i. 

"Pater mi, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste; verumtamen, 
non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu." Matth. xxvi. 39, 
6 Part 2, ep. 54. 

406 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. 1 But in 
answer God said to him: My grace is sufficient for thee? 
Let us be persuaded that God not only desires, but is 
also solicitous for our welfare. The Lord is careful for 
me. 3 Let us, then, abandon ourselves into the hands of 
God, for he has care of us: Casting all your care upon 
Him, for He hath care of you." 

Finally, how happy shall be the death of a soul per 
fectly conformed to the will of God! But he who 
wishes to die in sentiments of perfect conformity to the 
divine will must first conform to it in all things during 
life. Let us, then, in all contradictions and crosses 
that befall us accustom ourselves to acts of resignation, 
always repeating with the saints that great prayer 
which Jesus Christ has taught us: "Thy will be done; 
Thy will be done." Or let us repeat the words of the 
same Saviour: Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in 
Thy sight. 6 And let us continually offer ourselves to 
God, saying with the divine Mother: " Behold the hand 
maid of the Lord." 7 Lord, behold your servant, dis 
pose of me, and of all that belongs to me, as you please; 
I accept all from your hands. St. Teresa used to offer 
herself fifty times in the day to God. Let us also say 
to him, with the Apostle: O Lord, what wilt Thoti have 
me do? My God, make known to me what Thou wishest 
from me, and I will do it. The saints have done great 
things in order to accomplish the will of God. Some 

1 " Datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae; . . . propter quod ter 
Dominum rogavi, ut discederet a me." 2 Cor. xii. 7. 
8 " Sufficit tibi gratia mea." 

3 " Dominus sollicitus est mei." Ps. xxxix. 18. 

4 " Omnem sollicitudinem vestram projicientes in eum, quoniam 
ipsi cura est de vobis." i Pet. v. 7. 

5 " Fiat voluntas tua!" 

6 " Ita, Pater! quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te." Matth. xi. 26. 

7 " Ecce ancilla Domini!" 8 " Domine, quid me vis facere?" 

INSTR. x.] The Love of God. 407 

have fled into the desert, others have shut themselves 
up in the cloister, and others have suffered torments 
and death. Let us also who are priests, and are bound 
by stricter obligations to sanctity, unite ourselves to 
the divine will; let us become saints; let us not be 
diffident on account of past sins. " God does not at 
tend," says St. Bernard, " to what man does, but to what 
he wishes to be." ] A resolute will, with the divine aid, 
conquers all things. 

Let us pray always: he who asks, receives: For every 
one that asketh, receiveth? Whatsoever we ask in prayer, 
we shall obtain: You shall ask whatever you will, and it 
shall be done unto you? And among all prayers, let the 
beautiful prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola be always 
dear to us; let us repeat it continually: "Grant me only 
Thy love with Thy grace, O Lord! and I shall be rich 
enough. " 1 Lord, give me your love and your grace, 
and I desire nothing more. But, like St. Augustine, 
we must ask this gift of divine love continually and 
earnestly. The holy Doctor says: "Hear me, hear me, 
O my God, my King, my Father, my honor, my salva 
tion, my light, my life, hear, hear me! Thee only do I 
love, Thee only do I seek. Heal me, and open my eyes. 
Look upon him who has fled from Thee; long enough 
have I served Thy enemy. Command that I may be a 
pure, a perfect lover of Thy wisdom." " And in asking 

" Non attendit Deus quid fecerit homo, sed quid velit^sse." 

2 " Omnis enim qui petit, accipit." Matth, vii. 8. 

3 "Quodcunque volueritis, petetis, et fiet vobis. " -Jo/in, xv. 7. 

" Amorem tui solum cum gratia tua mihi dones, et dives sum 

5 " Exaudi, exaudi, exaudi me, Deus meus, Rex meus, Pater meus, 
Honor meus, Salus mea, Lux mea, Vita mea! exaudi, exaudi, exaudi 
me. Jam te solum amo, te solum quaero. Sana et aperi oculos meos. 
Recipe fugitivum tuuir.; satis inimicis tuis servierim. . Jubeas me 
purum perfectumque amatorem esse sapientiae tuae." Solil. 1. i, c. i. 

408 Material for Institutions. [PART n. 

the divine graces, I add, with St. Bernard, let us always 
have recourse to the intercession of Mary, who obtains 
for her servants whatever she asks from God. 1 

1 " Quaeratnus gratiam, et per Mariam quseramus; quia, quod quaerit, 
invenit, et frustrari non potest. " De A quad. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 409 



(THIS instruction may serve either for an instruction 
or for a sermon; but whether it be given in the form of 
an instruction or of a sermon, the person who gives the 
spiritual exercises to the priests is entreated not to omit 
this discourse, which is, perhaps, the most fruitful of 
all; for without devotion to the divine Mother it is mor 
ally impossible for any one to be a good priest.) 

Let us, first, consider the moral necessity of the inter 
cession of Mary for priests; and secondly, the confidence 
which they ought to have in the prayers of this divine 

Moral Necessity of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin. 

With regard to the necessity of invoking her inter 
cession, it is necessary to know that although the Couacil 
of Trent 1 has only declared that the invocation of the 
saints is useful, still St. Thomas has asked the question: 
"Whether we should ask the saints to pray for us," 2 
and has answered in the affirmative, saying, that the 
order of the divine law requires that we mortals be 
saved through the saints by obtaining, through their 
prayers, the graces necessary for salvation. The holy 
Doctor says: "Such is, after St. Denis the Areopagite, 
the order divinely established for the government of 
kings, that those far off should return to God through 

1 Sess. 2$, De inv. Sand. 
!< Utrum debeamus Sanctos orare ad interpellandum pro nobis." 

4ro Material for Instructions. [PART u. 

the mediation of those that are nearer." " And as the 
saints in heaven are near God, we who are prisoners in 
the body and who travel far from God, we cannot, ac 
cording to the order established, return to our supreme 
end except through the mediation of the saints." 2 Other 
authors, particularly the continuator of Tournely and 
Sylvius, hold the same opinion. He afterwards adds: 
" The natural law prescribes for us the order estab 
lished by God. Now God wishes that inferior creat 
ures in order to reach salvation should implore the 
help of superior creatures." 3 

But if it is a duty to ask the prayers of the saints, 
how much more strictly are we bound to invoke the in 
tercession of Mary, whose prayers are more efficacious 
with God than the prayers of all the other saints! St. 
Thomas says that through the abundant grace which God 
has given them the saints can save many, but that the 
Blessed Virgin has merited grace sufficient to save all. 4 
St. Bernard has written that as we have access to the 
Father through his Son Jesus Christ, so we have access 
to the Son through the Mother. 5 Hence he afterwards 

1 " Ordo est divinitus institutus in rebus, secundum Dionysium, ut 
per media ultima reducantur in Deum. Unde, cum Sancti, qui sunt in 
patria, sint Deo propinquissimi, hoc divinae legis ordo requirit, ut nos, 
qui marientes in corpore peregrinamur a Domino, in eum per Sanctos 
medios reducamur." 

2 " Sicut, mediantibus Sanctorum suffragiis, Dei beneficia in nos 
deveniunt, ita oportet nos in Deum reduci, ut iterate beneficia ejus 
sumamus mediantibus Sanctis." In 4 Sent. d. 45, q. 3, a. 2. 

3 " Lege natural! tenemur eum ordinem observare, quern Deus insti- 
tuit; at constituit Deus ut inferiores ad salutem perveniant, implorato 
superiorum subsidio." De Relig. p. 2, c. 2, a. 5. 

4 "Magnum est enim in quolibet Sancto, quando habet tantum de 
gratia quod sufficit ad salutem multorum; sed, quando haberet tantum 
quod sufficeret ad salutem omnium, hoc esset maximum, et hoc est in 
Christo et in Beata Virgine." Expos, in Sal. Ang, 

5 " Per te accessum habeamus ad Filium, o Inventrix gratise, Mater 
salutis, ut per te nos suscipiat, qui per te ciatus est nobis !" In Adv. 
Dom. s. 2. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 4 1 1 

said that all the graces that we receive from God come 
to us through Mary: "God has placed in Mary the 
plenitude of all gifts. Acknowledge, then, that all that 
there is in us of hope, of grace, of salvation, we receive 
from her who is filled with delights. She is truly a garden 
of delights, so that from her are sent forth perfumes the 
most exquisite, that is, gifts and graces of God." ! The 
saint assigns the following reason for asserting that all 
the divine graces come to us through the hands of Mary: 
" It is the will of God to grant us all the graces of which 
we stand in need." 2 This maybe also inferred from all 
the texts of Scripture which the holy Church applies to 
Mary: He that shall find me shall find tife. 3 In me is all 
grace of the way and of the truth. . . . They that work by 
me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life ever 
lasting." The words of the holy Church, in the Salve 
Regina, in which she calls Mary our life and our hope? are 
sufficient to confirm us all in this doctrine. 

Hence St. Bernard exhorts us to have recourse to this 
divine Mother, with a secure confidence of obtaining the 
graces that we ask her to procure for us; because the 
Son knows not how to refuse anything to the Mother/ 
Hence the saint afterwards calls Mary the entire ground 
of his hope: " My children, she is the ladder for sinners; 

1 "Totiusboni plenitudinem posuit (Deus) in Maria, ut proinde, si 
quid spei in nobis est, si quid gratiae, si quid salutis, ab ea noverimus 
redundare, quse ascendit deliciis affluens: hortus deliciarum, ut undique 
fluant et effluant aromata ejus, charismata scilicet gratiarum." De 

2 " Sic est voluntas ejus qui totum nos habere voluit per Mariam." 

3 "Qui me_invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino." 
Prov. viii. 35. 

4 " In me gratia omnis vise et veritatis; in me omnis spes vitse et 
virtutis. . . . Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt. Qui elucidant me, 
vitam aeternam habebunt." Ecclus. xxiv. 25. 

5 " Vita, Dulcedo, et Spes nostra." 

6 " Ad Mariam recurre; non dubius dixerim, exaudiet utique Matrem 

412 Material for Instructions. CPARTII. 

she is the greatest motive of my confidence; she is the 
only cause of my hope." ] He concludes by saying that 
we should ask all the graces of which we stand in need, 
through Mary, because she obtains whatever she asks, 
and her prayers cannot be rejected. 2 Before him St. 
Ephrem said the same: " O most sincere Virgin ! only in 
thee do we repose confidence." : St. Ildephonsus teaches 
the same doctrine: " All the good decreed by the sublime 
majesty for the benefit of men, this she has decreed to 
be conveyed to them through the hands of Mary; for 
to thee, O Mary ! has been intrusted treasures and 
ornaments of grace." < The same is held by St. Peter 
Damian: " In thy hands are all the treasures of divine 
mercies." 5 St. Bernardine of Sienna says: "Thou art 
the dispenser of all graces; our salvation rests in thy 
hands. " This, too, was the doctrine of St. John Da 
mascene, of St. Germanus, of St. Anselm, of St. Anto- 
nine, of Idiota, and of so many other learned authors, 
such as Segneri, Pacciuchelli, Crasset, Vega, Mendoza, 
and Natalis Alexander, who says: "He [God] wishes 
that we should receive all the good that we wish from 
him through the mediation of his powerful Mother, by 
invoking her as we should. " : Father Contenson has 

1 " Filioli, haec peccatorum scala, haec mea maxima fiducia est, haec 
tota ratio spei meae." 

2 "Quaeramus gratiam, et per Mariam quaeramus; quia, quod quaerit, 
invenit, et frustrari non potest. De A quad. 

3 " Nobis non est alia quam a te fiducia, o Virgo sincerissima !" De 
Laud. B. M. V. 

4 " Omnia bona quae illic summa Majestas decrevit facere, tuis 
manibus voluit commendare; commissi quippe sunt tibi thesauri . . . 
et ornamenta gratiarum." De Cor. Virg. c. 15. 

5 " In manibus tuis sunt thesauri miserationum Domini." De Nativ. 
s. i. 

6 " Tu Dispensatrix omnium gratiarum; salus nostra in manu tua 

1 " Deus vult ut omnia bona ab ipso exspectemus, potentissima Vir- 
ginis Matris intercessione, cum earn, ut par est, invocamus, impe- 
tranda." Ep. 50 in cake Theol. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 4 1 3 

also held this opinion. Explaining the words of Jesus 
Christ on the cross to St. John, he says: "Behold thy 
Mother. As if he said: No one will participate in my 
blood except through the mediation of my Mother. My 
wounds are the fountains of all graces, but these foun 
tains flow only through Mary upon you. O my disciple 
John, as much as you love her, so much shalt thou be 
loved by me." 

And if, on account of the moral necessity of Mary s 
intercession for all, every Christian ought to be devoted 
to the Mother of God, how much more should priests, 
who are bound by greater obligations, and stand in need 
of greater graces for salvation, practise devotion in her 
honor ! We priests should remain always at the feet of 
Mary, asking the aid of her prayers. St. Francis Borgia 
had great doubts about the salvation of those that have 
not a special devotion to Mary; because, according to 
St. Antonine, he who expects graces from God without 
the intercession of Mary attempts to fly without wings. 2 
St. Anselm has gone so far as to say: " It is impossible 
to be saved if we turn away from thee, O Mary." 3 St. 
Bonaventure has said the same: " He that neglects her 
will die in his sins. " Blessed Albertus Magnus says: 
The people that do not serve thee will perish." 5 And 
speaking of Mary, Richard of St. Laurence says: "All 
those whom this ship does not receive are lost in the sea 

1 " Ecce Mater tua ! (John, xix. 20); quasi diceret: Nullus sanguinis 
illius particeps erit, nisi intercessione Matris meae. Vulnera gratiarum 
fontes sunt; sed ad nullos derivabantur rivi, nisi per Marianum canalem. 
Joannes discipule, tantum a me amaberis, quantum earn amaveris." 
Theol. mcnt. et cord. t. 2, 1. 10, d. 4, c. I. 

2 " Sine alis tentat volare." P. 4, tit. 15, c. 22. 

3 " Omnis a te aversus necesse est ut intereat." Orat. 51. 

4 "Oui neglexerit illam, morietur in peccatis suis." Psalt. B. 

5 "Gens quae non servierit tibi, peribit." Bibl. Mar. Is. n. 20. 

414 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

of this world." 1 But, on the other hand, he who is 
faithful in the service of Mary will be certainly saved. 
" O Mother of God," says St. John Damascene, " if I put 
my confidence in you I shall be saved. If I am under 
your protection I have nothing to fear; for to be devoted 
to you is to have certain arms of salvation which God 
gives only to those whose salvation he wills in a special 


Confidence that we should have in the Intercession of the 
Mother of God. 

Let us now pass to the confidence which we ought to 
have in the intercession of Mary, on account of her power 
and mercy. 

I. As to her power. Cosmas of Jerusalem has called 
the intercession of our Queen not only powerful, but 
omnipotent. 3 And Richard of St. Laurence has writ 
ten: " From the omnipotent Son the Mother was made 
omnipotent." The Son is omnipotent by nature, the 
Mother by grace, inasmuch as she obtains from God 
whatsoever she asks. That this grace has been given to 
Mary we may infer from two reasons: first, because of 
all creatures Mary has been the most faithful, and the 
greatest lover of God. Hence, as Suarez says, the Lord 
loves Mary more than all the other saints and all the 
angels together. St. Bridget heard our Lord one day 
saying to his Mother: " Mother, ask what thou desirest 

1 " In mare mundi submerguntur omnes illi, quos non suscipit Navis 
ista." DC Laud, B. M. 1. n. 

2 Crasset, Ve r. DL ! V. p. I, tr. i, q. 6. 

3 " Omnipotens auxilium tuum, o Maria!" Hymn. 6. 

4 " Ab omnipotente Filio omnipotens Mater est effecta." DC Laud. 
B. M. 1. 4. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 4 1 5 

of Me; for thy petition cannot be in vain. . . ." Then 
he added: " For since on earth thou didst deny Me 
nothing, I will not deny thee anything in heaven." 1 
The second reason is, that Mary is a mother: hence St. 
Antonine has said, that her prayers partake of the na 
ture of a command, because they are the prayers of a 
mother. 2 St. John Damascene says: " O Lady, thou 
hast all power to save sinners; thou needest no other 
recommendation to God, since thou art his mother." 3 
And St. George of Nicomedia has written, that Jesus 
Christ, in order to discharge the obligations that he 
owed in a certain manner to Mary for having given 
him his human nature, grants whatever she asks from 
him. 4 Hence St. Peter Damian has gone so far as to 
say, that when Mary goes to Jesus to ask a favor for 
any of her clients " she approaches the altar of human 
reconciliation; not asking, but commanding, not as a 
servant, but as a mistress; for the Son honors her by 
not refusing her anything." 

From the time that Mary was on this earth she had 
the privilege of having all her prayers heard by her Son. 
Speaking of Mary s request 6 to Jesus to provide wine 
when it failed at the marriage of Cana in Galilee, St. 
John Chrysostom says, that though the Redeemer ap 
peared to refuse the favor, saying: Woman, what is to 

1 " Mater, pete quod vis a me; non enim inanis potest esse petitio 
tua. Quia tu mihi nihil negasti in terra, ego tibi nihil negabo in coelo." 
Rev. 1. 6, c. 23; 1. I, c. 24. 

2 " Oratio Deiparae habet rationem imperii; unde impossibile est earn 
non exaudiri." P. 4, t. 15, c. 17, . 4. 

a In Dorm. B. V. s. 2. 

4 " Filius, quasi exsolvens debitum, petitiones tuas implet." Orat. 
dc Ingr. B. V. 

5 " Accedis ante illud humanae reconciliationis Altare, non solum 
rogans, sed imperans, Domina, non ancilla; nam Filius, nihil negans, 
honorat te." In Nat, B. V. s. i. 

6 " Vinum non habent." John, ii. 3. 

4 1 6 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

Me and to thee ? My hour has not yet come? still he granted 
the petition of his mother. 2 

The prayers of Mary, says St. Germanus, obtain great 
graces for the most abandoned sinners, because they 
are prayers accompanied with the authority of a mother/ 
In a word, there is no one, however wicked, whom 
Mary does not save by herintercession when she wishes. 
Hence St. George, Archbishop of Nicomedia, says, O 
great Mother of God: " Thou hast insuperable strength, 
since the multitude of our sins does not outweigh thy 
clemency. Nothing resists thy power, for the Creator 
regards thy honor as his own." 4 To thee, then, O my 
Queen, says St. Peter Damian, nothing is impossible, 
since thou canst succor and save even those that are in 
despair. 5 

II. But if Mary is powerful, and able to save us by 
her intercession, she is equally merciful, and willing to 
obtain our salvation: "Neither the power nor the will 
is wanting to her," 6 says St. Bernard. She is called the 
Mother of Mercy, because her compassion for us makes 
her love and assist us as a mother assists a sick child. 
The love of all mothers together, according to Father 
Nieremberg, 7 is not equal to the love which Mary bears 

1 "Quid mihi et tibi est, mulier ? nondum venit hora mea." 

2 " Et licet ita respondent, maternis tamen precibus obtemperavit." 
In Jo . horn. 21. 

3 " Tu autem, materna in Deum auctoritate pollens, etiam iis, qui 
enormiter peccant, gratiam concilias; non enim potesnonexaudiri, cum 
Deus tibi, ut verse et intemeratae Matri, in omnibus morem gerat." In 
Dorm. Dcip. s. 2. 

4 " Habes vires insuperabiles, ne clementiam tuam superet multitudo 
peccatorum. Nihil tuae resistit potentiae; tuam enim gloriam Creator 
existimat esse propriam." Or. de Ingr. B. V. 

5 " Nihil tibi impossibile, cui possibile est desperates in spem beati- 
tudinis relevare." DC Nat. B. V. s. I. 

6 " Nee facultas ei deesse poterit, nee voluntas. " In Assumpt. s. I. 
1 DC Aff. crga B. V. c. 14. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 4 1 7 

a client that recommends himself to her. Hence she is 
compared to a fair olive tree: As a fair olive tree in the 
plains. 1 " In the plains," says Cardinal Hugo, " that all 
may look upon her, that all may have recourse to her." 2 
As the olive gives oil, the symbol of mercy, to him who 
possesses it, so Mary pours her mercies on all who have 
recourse to her. 

Blessed Amedeus has written, that our Queen is con 
tinually praying for us in heaven. 3 And before him 
Venerable Bede said: "Mary stands before her Son and 
does not cease to pray for sinners." 4 St. Bernard asks, 
What else but mercy can flow from the fountain of 
mercy? 5 St. Bridget once heard our Saviour saying to 
Mary: "Mother, ask what you wish of me." 6 Mary 
answered: "I ask mercy for the miserable." 7 As if she 
said: Son, since you have made me the Mother of 
Mercy, what will I ask of you ? Nothing else than 
mercy for miserable sinners. The great charity, says 
St. Bernard, that reigns in the heart of Mary for all, 
obliges her to open to all the bosom of mercy. 8 

St. Bonaventure says that, looking at Mary, he ap 
peared no longer to behold the divine justice that terri 
fied him, but only the divine mercy that God has placed 

" Quasi oliva speciosa in campis. " Ecclus. xxiv. 19. 

2 " In campis, ut omnes earn respiciant, omnes ad earn confugiant. " 

3 "Adstat Beatissima Virgo vultui Conditoris, prece potentissima 
semper interpellans pro nobis." 

"Stat Maria in conspectu Filii sui, non cessans pro peccatoribus 

" Quid de fonte pietatis procederet, nisi pietas ?" Dom. i p. 
Epiph. s. i 

" Mater, pete quod vis a me." Rev. 1. 6, c. 23. 

" Misericordiam peto miseris." Ib. 1. i, c. 50. 

Sapientibus et insipientibus copiosissima charitate debitricem se 
fecit; omnibus misericordiae sinum aperit, ut de plenitudine ejus acci- 
piant universi." In Sign. magn. 

41 8 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

in the hands of Mary, that she may assist the miserable. 1 
And St. Leo has said that Mary is so full of mercy that 
she is called mercy itself. 2 And who after Jesus, ex 
claims St. Germanus, is so solicitous for our welfare as 
thou, O Mother of Mercy? 3 Speaking of Mary, St. 
Augustine says: "We acknowledge that one, namely, 
that thou alone, takest care of us in heaven. >M As if he 
said: O Mother of God, it is true that all the saints love 
our salvation, but thy charity, in assisting us from heaven, 
with so much love, and heaping on us so many graces, 
which thou continually obtainest for us, compels us to 
confess, that it is thou alone who truly loves us, and 
anxiously seeks our welfare. St. Germanus adds: "Her 
defence of us is never satisfied." 1 Mary prays inces 
santly for us; she repeats her prayers, and is never tired 
praying in our defence. 

Bernardine De Bustis says that Mary is more desirous 
of dispensing graces to us than we are of receiving 
them/ The same author says that as the devil, accord 
ing to St. Peter, goes about seeking whom he may de 
vour, 7 so Mary goes about seeking whom she may save. 8 

1 " Certe, Domina ! cum te aspicio, nihil nisi misericordiam cerno; 
nam pro miseris Mater Dei facta es, et tibi miserendi est officium com- 
missum." Stim. div. am. p. 3, c. 19. 

2 "Maria adeo praedita est misericordise visceribus, ut, non tantum 
misericors, sed ipsa Misericordia dici promereatur." 

3 "Quis, post Filium tuum, curam gerit generis humani, sicut tu? 
Quis ita nos defendit in nostris affiictionibus ? Quis pugnat pro pecca- 
toribus? Propterea, patrocinium tuum majus est, quam comprehend i 
possit. De Zona Deip. 

4 "Te solam, o Maria ! pro Sa-ncta Ecclesia sollicitam prae omnibus 
Sanctis scimus." S. Bonav. Spec. B. V. lect. 6. 

5 " Non est satietas defensionis ejus." De Zona Deip. 

6 " Plus desiderat ipsa facere tibi bonum et largiri gratiam, quam tu 
accipere concupiscas." 

7 " Circuit quaerens quem devoret." i Pet. v. 8. 

8 " Ipsa semper circuit quaerens quem salvet." Maria I p. 2, s 5; 
p. 3, s- I- 

INSTR. xi.i Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 419 

Who, I ask, receives grace from Mary? he who wishes 
for them. A holy soul used to say, to obtain graces 
through Mary it is enough to ask them. And St. Ilde- 
phonsus has written, that we ought to ask nothing of 
Mary but to pray for us; for by her prayers she will 
obtain for us greater graces than we could ask. 1 How, 
then, does it happen that there are many who do not 
receive graces through the prayers of Mary? Because 
they do not wish for them. He who is attached to any 
passion, to self-interest, to ambition, to an inordinate 
affection, does not wish for grace to be delivered from 
it, and therefore he does not ask it: had he asked it of 
Mary, she would certainly have obtained it for him. 
But miserable and unhappy the man, said the Holy 
Virgin to St. Bridget, who, having it in his power to 
have recourse to me in this life, shall, through his own 
fault remain miserably in his sins and in the state of 
perdition. 2 A time shall come when he would wish, but 
will not be able, to have recourse to her. 

Ah ! let us not expose ourselves to this great danger. 
Let us always have recourse to this divine Mother, who 
knows not how to let any one who invokes her aid de 
part without consolation, says Blosius. 3 Mary is always 
ready, as Richard of St. Laurence says, to assist those 
who ask her prayers. 4 According to Richard of St. 
Victor, Mary s tenderness prevents our supplications, 
and procures aid for us before we pray to her. Because, 
adds the same author, Mary is so full of mercy that she 

1 " Majori devotione orabis pro me, quam ego auderem petere; et 
majora etiam impetrabis mihi, quam petere pnesumam." De Rhet. 
div. c. 1 8. 

" Ideo miser erit, qui ad misericordiam, cum possit, non accedit!" 
Rev. 1. 2, c. 23. 

3 " Adeo feci earn mitem, ut neminem a se redire tristem sinat." 
Alloq. 1. i, p. 4, can. 12. 

4 "Semper paratam auxiliari." De Laud. B. M. 1. 2, p. i. 

420 Material for Instructions. [PART n. 

cannot see our miseries without coming to our re 
lief. 1 

And who, exclaims Innocent III., has ever had recourse 
to Mary without being heard? 2 Who, says Blessed 
Eutichianus, has ever sought her aid and has been 
abandoned by her? 3 St. Bernard has written: "O holy 
Virgin, if a man has been ever found who, after invoking 
your aid, remembers not to have obtained relief, I am 
satisfied that he should cease to praise your mercy. 4 
No: such a case has never occurred, and never shall 
occur; for, says St. Bonaventure, Mary cannot but pity 
and relieve the miserable. 5 Hence the saint has said, 
that this Mother of mercy, who so ardently desires to 
assist us and to see us saved, is offended not only by 
those who do her a positive injury, but also by those 
who neglect to ask favors from her. 6 

Let us then have recourse to Mary; and in seeing 
that our sins render us unworthy to be heard, let us not 
distrust her clemency. Our Lord revealed to St. Bridget 
that Mary would have saved Lucifer by her intercession 
had that haughty demon humbled himself and had re 
course to her. 7 And the Virgin herself said to the same 

1 "A Deo pietate replentur ubera tua, ut, alicujus miseriae notitia 
tacta, lac fundant misericordiae, nee possis miserias scire et non sub- 
venire." In Cant. c. 23. 

2 "Quis invocavit earn, et non est exauditus ab ipsa?" De A ssumpt. 
s. 2. 

3 " Quis, o Domina ! fideliter omnipotentem tuam rogavit opem, et 
fuit derelictus ? revera nullus unquam." Surius, 4 Febr. Vit. S. Theoph. 

4 " Sileat misericordiam tuam, Virgo Beata, qui invocatam te in neces- 
sitatibus suis sibi meminerit defuisse." De Assttmpt. s. 4. 

5 " Ipsa enim non misereri ignorat, et miseris non satisfacere nun- 
quam scivit." Stint, am. p. 3, c. 13. 

6 " In te, Domina, peccant, non solum qui tibi injuriam irrogant, sed 
etiam qui te non rogant." 

7 " Etiam diabolo exhiberes misericordiam, si humiliter peteret." 
Rev. extr. c. 50. 

INSTR. xi.] Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 42 1 

St. Bridget, that when a sinner casts himself at her feet 
she regards not his sins, but the intention with which he 
comes. If he comes with a determination to change his 
life, she heals and saves him. 1 Hence St. Bonaventure 
called Mary the salvation of them who invoke her. 2 He 
that has recourse to Mary shall be saved. 

Practice of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 

I repeat, then, let us always have recourse to this great 
Mother of God, imploring her to protect us. But the 
better to gain her protection, let us endeavor to perform 
in her honor as many pious exercises as we can. That 
ardently devoted servant of Mary, Brother John Berch- 
mans, of the Society of Jesus, being asked at death by 
his companions what they should do in order to obtain 
the favor of Mary, said: "However little it may be, 
provided it be done with perseverance." 5 Every little 
act of devotion is sufficient to secure the patronage of 
this divine Mother. She is content with any little exer 
cise, provided it be constant; for, as St. Andrew of Crete 
says, she is so liberal that she is accustomed to reward 
the smallest homage by obtaining abundant graces. 4 
But we should not be content with small things: let us 
at least offer her all the acts of devotion which her 
clients ordinarily perform in her honor; such as, to re 
cite the Rosary every day, to perform the Novenas of 

1 " Quantumcumque homo peccet, si ex vera emendatione ad me 
reversus fuerit, statim parata sum recipere revertentem; nee attendo 
quantum peccaverit, sed cum quali voluntate venit; nam non dedignor 
ejus plagas ungere et sanare, quia vocor (et vere sum) Mater miseri 
cord ise." Rev. 1. 2, c. 23; 1. 6, c. 17. 

2 " O Salus te invocantium rCant. p. Psalt. 

3 "Quidquid minimum, dummodo sit constans." 

4 " Cum sit rmgnificentissima, solet maxima pro minimis reddere." 
In Dorm. B. V. s. q, 

422 Material for Institutions. [PART n. 

her festivals, to fast on Saturday, to wear the Scapular, 
to visit some image every day in her honor, asking her 
to obtain some special grace, to read each day a book 
that treats of her praises, to salute her in leaving and 
returning home; rising in the morning and going to bed 
at night, to put ourselves under her protection, by say 
ing three " Hail Marys" in honor of her purity. 

Even seculars practise these devotions; but we priests 
can honor her much more by preaching her glories, and 
by inculcating to others the advantages of being devoted 
to her: They that explain Me shall have life everlasting? 
She promises eternal life to him who endeavors in this 
life to make others know and love her. Blessed Edminco, 
Bishop, began every sermon by the praises of Mary. This 
was so pleasing to the divine Mother, that she one day 
said to St. Bridget: " Tell that prelate that I will be a 
mother to him, and that at death I will present his soul 
to my Son." 5 Oh, what pleasure would a priest give to 
Mary, if every Saturday he made a short discourse to 
the people on devotion to her, and especially on her 
tender compassion for us, and her desire to assist all 
who pray to her ! For, as St. Bernard says, it is the 
mercy of Mary that inspires in the people the greatest 
affection for her devotion. Let preachers at least en 
deavor in every sermon, before the conclusion, to exhort 
the hearers to have recourse to most holy Mary, and to 
ask some favor from her: 

In a word, Richard of St. Laurence says that he who 
honors Mary acquires treasures of eternal life. 3 For 
this purpose I published some years since a book en 
titled the Glories of Mary, and I endeavored to enrich it 

1 " Qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt." Ecclus. xxiv. 31. 

2 Rev. cxtr. c. 104. 

3 " Honorare Mariarn, thesaurizare est sibi vitam aeternam." De 
Laud, B, M. 1. 2, p. I. 

INSTR. xi.i Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 423 

with authorities from Scriptures and the holy Fathers, 
with examples and devout practices, not only that it 
might be useful to all as a book for spiritual reading, 
but particularly that it might supply priests with abun 
dant matter for preaching the praises of Mary, and in 
spiring the people with devotion to her. 


St. Alphonsus himself has added, as an appendix to his 
Collection of Materials for Ecclesiastical Retreats, the 
three following little works: RULE OF LIFE, SPIRITUAL 
RULES, and SPIRITUAL MAXIMS. To them we have add 

little of ife for a Serttlar Priest, 

Morning Exercises. 


IN the morning on rising the priest shall make acts of 
thanksgiving, of love, and of oblation of all that he is to 
do arid to suffer during the day. He shall finish by a 
prayer to God and to the Blessed Virgin, in order to 
obtain the grace of not falling into sin. 

These acts may be thus formulated: 1 

my God ! prostrate in Thy presence, I adore Thy 
infinite Majesty, and I submit myself entirely to Thee. 

1 believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, and I love Thee 
with my whole heart. 

I thank Thee for all Thy benefits, and especially for 
having preserved me during this night. 

I offer Thee all my thoughts, words, actions, and 
sufferings of this day in union with those of Jesus and 
of Mary. 

I intend to gain all the indulgences that I can gain, 
and to apply them to the souls in purgatory. 

my God ! for the love of Jesus Christ, deliver me 
from every sin. O my Jesus ! by Thy merits make me 
li^e united to Thee. Mary, my Mother, bless me, and 
protect me under thy mantle. My holy guardian angel, 
and all my holy patrons, intercede for me. Amen. 

Here recite the " Hail Mary" three times in honor of 
the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

1 We have thought it useful to add here the formula which the saint 
gives elsewhere in several places. ED. 

428 Appendix. 


The priest shall begin the day by a half-hour s medi 
tation on the eternal truths, or on the Passion of Jesus 
Christ. Meditation on the Passion of our Lord is more 
especially suitable to a priest before celebrating Mass, 
since he is about to renew at the altar the memory of it 
by offering to God the same victim and the same sacri 
fice. During meditation, after having read the subject, 
he should endeavor to make acts of sorrow and of love, 
and frequently offer to God prayers in order to obtain 
perseverance in his grace and his divine love. Let him 
guard against abandoning meditation, however great 
the disgust and the pain he may experience during it; if 
he abandons the practice of meditation, he will be ex 
posed to the greatest danger of losing God. Even 
when he is able to say only these words: O my God, 
help me ! O my Jesus, mercy ! his meditation will be 
excellent, and will profit him much. 

In order to be more recollected in meditation, let him 
shut himself up in some place where he may find him 
self alone with the crucifix. For this purpose he shall 
endeavor to have a separate room; and if he cannot 
have it, let him go to the church to make his meditation 
there rather than make it at home amid the noise made 
by persons who pass in and out, and who talk. 1 


After meditation, he shall recite the Little Hours as 
far as None; then he shall celebrate Mass. In order to 
say Mass with greater recollection, it would be expedi- 

1 To understand this passage and others of a like nature, we must 
know that many secular priests in Italy remained with their families, 
having no special employment; this was the case with St. Alphonsus 
himself at the beginning of his priestly life. ED. 

Rule of Life. 429 

ent, if there be no obstacle, to say Mass before all other 
occupations of the day. 

Besides the meditation one should not fail to make a 
short preparation for Mass by reanimating one s faith in 
the great mystery that one is about to celebrate; one 
should make at least three acts: of love, of contrition, 
and of desire to be united to Jesus Christ. 

After Mass one should not omit to make thanksgiving, 
of an hour or at least of half an hour, by applying one s 
self during that time to the making of acts of love, of 
the offering of one s self, and of petition. The time that 
follows Mass is a time for amassing treasures of grace. 
When one is in a state of interior dryness, not knowing 
what to do with one s self, one may at least read out of 
some book pious affections to Jesus Christ. 


After having made his thanksgiving, 1 the priest shall 
go to the confessional if he is a confessor. It must here 
be observed that on days on which there is a great con 
course of people, as on festivals, he may shorten his 
thanksgiving in order to hear confessions; but this only 
holds good for similar cases that are rare. Usually 
the confessor should not omit his thanksgiving after 
Mass in order that penitents may not be obliged to wait 
for him. However, when there come to confession men 
that are not accustomed to frequent the sacraments, it 
will be better if he hears them before Mass; because 
such persons have not the patience to wait; and if they 
do not confess on that day, God knows when they will 

As for the priest who is not a confessor, he shall retire 
in order to attend to his studies. He should occupy 

1 We may remark that nothing is said about breakfast, because in 
Italy, generally, no meal is taken as in the countries of the north, but 
dinner is taken earlier. ED. 

43 Appendix. 

himself in the study of Moral Theology, so as to become 
capable of administering the sacrament of penance, in 
the composition of sermons, or in similar things that 
may serve for his own instruction or for the good of 


It must here be observed that we do not ask that al 
the exercises of which this Rule speaks should be per 
formed in the order in which they are here mentioned. 
Provided that they are performed in the course of the 
day, it is sufficient; it matters little whether one takes 
place before the other according to one s convenience. 
Thus, for example, in winter, when the days are longer, 
one may, after meditation and the Office, study for an 
hour or two. For the rest, a priest that wishes to lead 
a life worthy of his state should fix the time and the 
hour of all his exercises so that everything may be done 
in a regular order. Let him not act as some who follow 
no order in all that they do. The life that is without a 
rule is an image of hell, which is described by Job: A 
land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and 
no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth? 


The hour of dinner having come, he shall eat moder 
ately, as is becoming a priest: he should not imitate cer 
tain gluttonous priests who wish that the whole house 
should busy itself about preparing different kinds of food 
which they ordered in the morning, and when at dinner 
they do not find the food to be according to their taste, 
they grow angry, and excite a commotion among their 
servants and relatives. St. Philip Neri says: "He that 
seeks to gratify his palate will never become a saint." 

1 " Terram miserise et tenebrarum, ubi umbra mortis, et nullus orao, 
sed sempiternus horror inhabitat." Job, x. 22. 

Rule of Life. 431 

And if the priest should be temperate in eating, he 
should be particularly so in the use of wine, the excess 
of which is most pernicious to virtue, especially to the 
virtue of chastity. 

On Saturdays, let him endeavor, in honor of the 
Blessed Virgin, to keep at least the common fast, if he 
thinks that he cannot fast on bread and water; let him, 
however, be content on that day with one course. More 
over, on some other days of the week, as on Wednesday 
and Friday, as also in all the Novenas of our Lady, let 
him at least deprive himself of something at table. 


Exercises after Dinner, 

After the needed rest, the priest shall recite Vespers 
and Compline, and shall afterwards make a half-hour s 
spiritual reading. For the spiritual reading he may use 
the Knowledge and Love of Jesus Christ by Father St. 
Jure, or Christian Perfection by Father Rodriguez, 
books that are filled with piety and unction. He may 
also read other works; * but let him, above all, read the 
lives of the saints, as the life of St. Philip Neri, of St. 
Francis Borgia, of St. Peter of Alcantara, and the like. 
In the books that treat of spirituality we see virtues in 
theory, while in the lives of the saints we see them in 
practice; and this will stimulate us more efficaciously 
to imitate the saints. St. Philip Neri never ceased to 
exhort his penitents to read the lives of the saints. 
How many saints, such as St. John Colombini, St. Ig 
natius Loyola, St. Teresa, have been induced by the 

1 It may perhaps be needless to recall here to mind the ascetical 
works written by St. Alphonsus himself. Many well-instructed priests 
avow that they seek no other books of piety, because they find all that 
they desire in those of the holy bishop, who seems to have provided for 
all the wants of the soul. ED. 

432 Appendix. 

reading of such books to consecrate themselves entirely 
to God ! 



After the spiritual reading he shall pay a visit to the 
Blessed Sacrament. Many of the faithful are very exact 
in performing this exercise every day, and never omit 
doing so, no matter how they may be inconvenienced 
thereby; but it is rare, and even very rare, to find secu 
lar priests who do so. It must be confessed that Jesus 
Christ is unfortunate in his priests ! All this comes 
from the little love that priests have for him. He that 
tenderly loves a friend, seeks to see him as often as he 
can, especially when his visits are most agreeable to this 

By this visit I do not mean only a few " Our Fathers" 
said in passing and with distraction before the altar. 
It consists in occupying one s self during some time in 
making pious affections to Jesus Christ in the Blessed 
Sacrament, and in asking of him graces, especially the 
grace of final perseverance and of his holy love. Alas ! 
who should entertain himself oftener and longer than 
a priest who every day makes Jesus come down from 
heaven to the earth, takes him in his hands, partakes of 
his adorable flesh, and moreover for his own benefit shuts 
him up in the tabernacle where he may find him present 
every time that he wishes ? 

After the visit to the Blessed Sacrament he should not 
omit to make, in the same church, his visit to the Mother 
of God, before some image that inspires him with the 
greatest devotion. 1 

1 We all know the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed 
Virgin which are found in Volume VI. This precious little work is 
also published separately. ED. 

Rule of Life. 433 


He may then recreate himself for some time by walk 
ing either in the country or on some solitary road, in 
company with a Father or some other spiritual person 
who speaks of God and not of the world. In the absence 
of such a person he should walk alone; for if he is ac 
companied by some secular he will soon lose all the 
recollection that he has found in his exercises of piety. 
If in his moments of leisure he visits the place where the 
moral conference is held, he will do better; he will find 
there recreation, and what will be profitable to him. 

Exercises of the Evening. 


Towards evening it is befitting that the priest should 
make another half-hour s meditation; it will be better if 
he makes it when possible with all the persons of the 
house, reading the points of meditation himself, and fin 
ishing by reciting the Christian acts. 

Then he should recite Matins and Lauds, and after 
wards devote himself to another hour s study. 

Afterwards he shall recite five decades of the Rosary, 
also with the people of the house, taking care to announce 
the mysteries on which the meditation should be made; 
he shall finish by saying the Litany of the Blessed Virgin 


The Rosary shall be followed by supper. He should 
observe greater sobriety at supper than at dinner; for if 
in the evening one takes too much food, it will happen 
that in the morning, when so many important duties are 
to be fulfilled, meditation, the saying of Mass, the hear 
ing of confessions, one will suffer not only in the 

434 Appendix. 

stomach, but also in the head, so that everything will be 
done with distraction and tepidity, -and the half of it 
will be lost. 


After supper the priest shall make the examination of 
conscience, to be followed by the act of contrition and 
by other pious acts; then after having recited, with the 
face on the floor, the " Hail Mary" three times, and after 
the usual practices in honor of the holy patrons, he 
should go to bed. 

The following is the act that we may recite before 
going to bed: 1 

my God ! I thank Thee for having preserved me 
this day, and I beseech Thee to vouchsafe to preserve 
me also this night, and to protect me from all evil. I 
take this repose in order to please Thee, and I intend 
each moment that I breathe to love and praise Thee, as 
is done by the saints and the elect in heaven. 

Mary, my Mother, bless me, and protect me under 
thy mantle. My angel guardian, and all my holy 
Patrons, intercede for me. 

Exercises that are not Performed Every Day. 


The priest should confess twice or at least once a 
week. He should not fail to have a particular Director, 
on whom it will be his duty to depend in all his spiritual 
exercises, and even in all the temporal affairs that may 
be of profit to his soul. 


Every month he shall make a day of retreat; on this 
day he should keep aloof from all temporal affairs, and 

1 We add this simple formula as we have done above for the morn 
ing exercise. ED. 

Rule of Life. 435 

even from spiritual occupations that regard his neighbor. 
Having retired to his own home or to some religious 
house, he shall occupy himself in silence only with him 
self, consecrating the whole day to prayer, to spiritual 
reading, to visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and to other 
similar exercises. Oh what strength does not the soul 
draw from these retreats, to be able to unite itself inti 
mately with God, and to walk more fervently in the ways 
of the Lord on the following days ! 1 


In temptations, especially in those against purity, he 
shall renew the resolution to suffer rather a thousand 
deaths than to offend God; then he shall have recourse 
at once to Jesus and to Mary by invoking their holy 
names until the violence of the temptation has subsided. 

He should be careful to dress modestly, always wear 
ing long clothes, and never those that are of silk. 

Let him keep from all banquets, the amusements of 
the world, the reunions with seculars, especially where 
there are women. 

1 There is no question here of the annual retreat. ED. 

436 Appendix. 

Spiritual ftuies for a Driest rolio Aspires to perfection. 


A PRIEST who aspires to perfection and desires to 
sanctify himself should, above all, endeavor to avoid 
more than death the least deliberate venial sin. In the 
present state of human frailty, since Adam s sin, no one 
can, and no one ever could, with the exception only of 
Jesus Christ and his most Blessed Mother, be exempt 
from all indeliberate venial faults. With the help of God, 
however, every one can avoid every deliberate fault; 
that is to say, committed with full advertence and con 
sent; thus the saints have acted. He, therefore, who 
tends to perfection should make up his mind rather to 
allow himself to be cut to pieces than to tell, with full 
knowledge, a lie, or to commit any other venial sin, how 
ever small it may be. 

Such should be his resolution; but if unfortunately 
he happens to fall into a fault, either deliberate or inde 
liberate, let him beware of troubling and disquieting 
himself. Disquietude does not come from God; it is a 
smoke that comes only from the abode of disquietude 
itself, namely, from hell; and it comes to us from that 
place because, as St. Aloysius has justly said, the 
devil always finds something to fish in troubled waters. 
When one has, for example, committed a fault one is 
troubled, and one is troubled because one has been 
troubled. In this state of disquietude we shall not only 
be unable to do any good, but we shall also easily com 
mit many other faults, either of impatience or of some 
other kind. Hence, as soon as the fault has been com- 

Spiritual Rules. 437 

mitted, we must humble ourselves and immediately have 
recourse to God by making an act of love or of contri 
tion with the firm purpose of amendment; then we ask 
with confidence for the grace of which we stand in need 
by saying: O Lord ! see what I am able to do; and if 
Thou withdrawest Thy hand from me I shall do still 
worse. I love Thee; I repent of the displeasure that I 
have caused Thee, and I will do so no more; grant me 
the help that I hope to receive from Thy goodness. 

After having done this we should be calm, as if we 
had not committed any fault; and if we fall back, even 
on the same day, let us do the same thing. Should we 
even fall a hundred times, we should always act in the 
same way, namely, we should humble ourselves, we 
should rise again, we must never remain down. 

It must be observed that to trouble one s self after a 
fault has been committed is an effect not of humility, 
but of pride; since we are sorry for the fault not be 
cause we have offended God, but rather because we are 
ashamed to appear before him so defiled. The priest 
should, therefore, never trouble himself on account of 
the faults into which he falls; but let him humble him 
self, acknowledging himself capable of committing these 
and other faults. Let him then make an act of love of 
God; thus this sin, instead of removing him from God, 
will serve only the more to unite him more closely to 
him, according to what the Apostle says: All things 
" even sins," 1 the Gloss adds work together unto good? 

Let him desire to advance without ceasing in the 
love of God. Not to wish to advance in perfection, 
which consists in the love of God, is to wish to go back 
ward, says St. Augustine. 3 He that moves against the 

1 " Etiam peccata." 

2 "Omnia cooperantur in bonum." Rom. viii. 23. 

3 " Non progredi, jam reverti est." Epist. 17, E. B. app. 

438 Appendix. 

current of a river, and does not make continual efforts 
against the movement of the waters, will be driven back. 
The same thing happens to us when we cease to strug 
gle with the concupiscence of the flesh. 

Holy -desires render our efforts easier, and help us to 
move forward; but it is necessary that these desires be 
firm and efficacious that is to say, that they be put in 
practice as much as possible. They should not resemble 
the desires of those that are content with saying, for 
example: Oh! if I had no brothers, no nephews, I would 
enter religion; if I had health, I would do this or that 
penance; and in the mean time these p.ersons do not 
take a step forward in the way of God: on the contrary, 
they always commit the same faults, always keeping up 
the same attachments and the same animosities, and go 
from bad to worse. 

It is therefore necessary that we advance in divine 
love, but with the resolution to do on our part all that 
we can to attain this end. We must, however, entirely 
mistrust our own strength, and trust only in God; for as 
soon as we trust in ourselves we remain deprived of the 
help of grace. 


To advance in perfection the priest must, moreover, 
entertain a great devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ 
and to the Blessed Sacrament. When we consider these 
two great mysteries of love, in which a God, to make 
himself loved, gives his life and makes himself the food 
of a worm of the earth, his creature, we cannot live 
without being inflamed with love for Jesus Christ. 
For the charity of Christ presseth us. 1 He that thinks of 
the love of Jesus Christ will feel himself, as it were, 
forced to love him. St. Bonaventure call the wounds 

1 " Charkas enim Christi urget nos." 2 Car., v. 14. 

Spiritual Rides. 439 

of Jesus the wounds that wound the most hardened 
hearts, and that inflame with love for God the coldest 
souls. 1 

Let the priest, then, always make as a usual thing, 
every day, a half-hour s meditation on the Passion of 
Jesus Christ. Let him, besides, make during the day 
frequent acts of love to this good Master, beginning 
them on awakening in the morning, and endeavoring at 
night to fall asleep while making them. St. Teresa 
said that acts of love are the wood that keeps up in the 
heart the sweet fire of divine love. The act of love of 
God that is more especially agreeable to God is the 
offering that we make to him of ourselves by offering 
to do and to suffer all that will please him. St. Teresa 
repeated this act at least fifty times a day. 


The priest should in all his actions take care to make 
his intention to do for God alone all that he does. The 
right intention is called by the masters of spiritual life 
a heavenly alchemy, which converts into gold all our 
actions, even corporal alleviations, such as sleep, eating, 
and recreation. But it is particularly necessary that 
the exercises of piety should be performed only to please 
God, and not for any interested motive, either of vain 
glory or self-satisfaction; otherwise all will be lost, and 
instead of a reward we shall receive only punishment. 
This is the reason why, in order to do surely for God all 
that we do, it is important that we always act in de 
pendence on our director. 


It is necessary that the priest should be a friend of 
solitude and of silence. He that treats too much with 

1 " Vulnera corda saxea vulnerantia, et mentes congelatas inflam- 
mantia." Stim. div. am. p. ! c. I. 

44-O Appendix. 

men, and speaks too much with them, will do well to be 
cautious; he will with difficulty escape sin: In the multi 
tude of words there shall not want sin. 1 For this reason 
the Lord says: In silence and in hope shall your strength 
be? Our strength against temptations is in confidence 
in God and in detachment from the society of creatures. 
Moreover, he that speaks much with men will rarely 
speak and treat with God. In solitude the Lord speaks 
and converses familiarly with souls, in accordance with 
the saying of St Jerome; "O solitude, in which God fa 
miliarly converses with his creatures!" 3 And he himself 
has informed us that it is in solitude that he speaks to 
our hearts: I will lead her into the wilderness; and I will 
speak to her heart? Thus we see souls that burn with 
the love of God always seeking solitude. The saints 
went to bury themselves in the forests and in the most 
frightful caverns, in order not to be troubled by the 
noise of the world and in order to converse only with 
God. " Silence and rest from noise," said St. Bernard, 
"as it were, forces the soul to converse with God." 5 

Nevertheless the virtue of silence does not consist in 
always keeping silence, but in being silent when it is 
expedient. A good priest is silent when he should be 
silent, and speaks when he should speak; but he speaks 
only of God or of what concerns the glory of God and the 
good of souls. Often a word about God spoken famil 
iarly in conversation will produce more fruit than many 
sermons. We should therefore be careful in all our 
conversations, however indifferent they may be, to allow 
some edifying word to glide into it on the eternal truths 

1 " In multiloquio non deerit peccatum." Prov. x. 19. 

2 " In silentio et in spe erit fortitude vestra." Is. xxx. 15. 

3 " O solitude, in qua Deus cum suis familiariter loquitur ac con- 

4 " Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Os. ii. 14. 

6 " Silentiura. et a strepitu quies cogit coelestia meditari." Epist. 78. 

Spiritual Rules. 44 1 

or on the love of God. When we love a person, we 
always wish to speak of him and to hear others speak 
of him; when we love God, we do not wish to speak of 
any one but of God, and we do not wish to hear any one 
spoken of except God. 


The love of God consists above all in conformity to 
his holy will, especially in regard to things that are 
mostly contrary to self-love, such as sickness, poverty, 
contempt, persecutions, spiritual aridities. We should 
be persuaded that all that comes from God is useful to 
us, since all that he does, he does for our own good; for 
there is no one that loves us more than God. If we 
wish to sanctify ourselves, let us say in all that happens 
to us: May Thy will be done! May the name of the 
Lord be blessed. O Lord! what wilt Thou have me do ? 
As it pleases the Lord, so let it be done. Let it be 
thus, O Father! because it was thus pleasing to Thee. 

In all the occurrences of life, whether agreeable or 
disagreeable, let us endeavor to preserve this continual 
peace and this unalterable tranquillity, of which the 
saints have given us the example, always saying: In 
peace in the self -same I will sleep and I will rest. 1 A soul 
that loves God, always united with its Lord, leads a 
uniform life. This is what is said by that great servant 
of God, Cardinal Petrucci, when speaking of the words 
of the Holy Ghost: Whatsoever shall befall the just, it shall 
not make him sad? 

Thus a priest that loves God will never be afflicted. 
Sin only should cause him sorrow; but even this sorrow, 
as we have said above, should be a tranquil sorrow, that 
does not trouble the peace of the soul. 

1 " In pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam." Ps. iv. 9. 

2 " Non contristabit justum quidquid ei accident." Prov. xii. 21. 

44 2 Appendix. 


The priest should often desire paradise, and conse 
quently death itself, in order promptly to go to heaven, 
where he may love Jesus Christ with all his strength 
and during all eternity, without fear of ever losing him. 
In the mean time he should conduct himself towards 
God without reserve, not refusing him anything that he 
knows will be more agreeable to him; and he should be 
continually attentive to banish from his heart all that is 
not God or for God. 


He should endeavor to conceive a great confidence 
and a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. All the 
saints are always fond of nourishing in their hearts a 
filial piety towards this divine Mother. He should take 
care to make every day a spiritual reading out of a book 
that treats of the great confidence that we should have 
in her powerful protection. He should never fail as 
well as he is able to fast on Saturdays in her honor; and 
in all her novenas he should at least practise some ab 
stinence and some other mortification. He should never 
omit to pay her a visit once or several times a day be 
fore some devout image. He should speak to others as 
much as he can of the confidence that we should have 
in the protection of Mary, and should endeavor on 
Saturdays to address in the church a little instruction 
to the faithful, so as to excite their devotion towards 
this charitable Queen; at least he should speak of her 
in a special manner in every one of his sermons, and 
recommend the same devotion to all his penitents and 
to all persons. The more one loves Mary, the more one 
loves God; for Mary draws to God all that love her. 
St. Bonaventure says: "Because she was inflamed with 

Spiritual Rules. 443 

love, she also inflames all those that love her, and makes 
them like herself." 1 


Let the priest endeavor to be humble of heart. Many 
are humble in their speech, but not in their hearts; they 
say that they are the greatest sinners in the world, that 
they merit a thousand hells: nevertheless they wish to 
be preferred, esteemed, and praised; they strive after 
honorable employments; they cannot suffer a contemp 
tuous word. The humble of heart do not act in this 
manner: they never speak of their talents, of their 
nobility, of their riches, or of anything that may be 
turned to their advantage. 

He should, therefore, love those employments and 
those works that are most humble and are less con 
spicuous. He should receive affronts without being 
troubled; he should even feel interior pleasure in seeing 
that he has become similar to Jesus Christ, who was 
filled with reproaches. Therefore, when he meets with 
some contradiction that wounds and irritates his pride 
he should do violence to himself not to speak nor act 
at that moment, even if he held the office of Superior, 
and as such is obliged to reprimand the insolence of 
him that offers the outrage. As long as he feels him 
self agitated he should keep silence and wait till he 
becomes calm, otherwise the smoke produced by his 
trouble will obscure his vision; he will believe that 
what he says or what he does is right, while all is 
faulty and disorderly. Moreover, when the correction 
is made amid agitation, the inferior will not receive it 
as a deserved reprimand, but as a passionate outbreak 
of temper on the part of the Superior; and this will 
make the correction useless, or nearly so. For the same 

Quia tola ardens fuit, omnes se amantes, eamque tangentes, ia- 
cendit." De B. V^ M. s_ i. 

444 Appendix. 

reason, when the Superior perceives that the inferior is 
troubled, he should put off the reprimand and wait till 
he has become calm; otherwise the inferior, blinded by 
his passion, will not only not receive the correction, but 
will even be moved to greater passion. 


The priest should try to be ready to assist every one, 
and especially to do good to him that has done him 
wrong, at least by recommending him to God. This is 
the way in which the saints take revenge. 


Let the priest be attentive to the practice of interior 
and exterior mortification. It was recommended by 
Jesus Christ when he said: Let him deny himself ? This 
is absolutely necessary in order to attain sanctity. 

Interior mortification exacts of us that we know how 
to conquer ourselves by refusing all that satisfies only 
our self-love. We should therefore abstain from every 
action that has no other object than to satisfy curiosity, 
ambition, or self-love. 

We should also love exterior mortification, namely, 
fasting, abstinence, disciplines, and the like. The saints 
macerated their flesh as much as possible, that is to say, 
as much as obedience permitted, and obedience is the rule 
of the saints. As to him who, on account of ill-health, 
cannot impose upon himself exterior mortifications, 
he should embrace the pains and the inconveniences 
that he has to suffer by endeavoring to support them 
patiently and peacefully, and by refraining from mak 
ing them known without necessity, and from complain 
ing about the want of care on the part of the physicians 
or persons of the house. 

1 " Abneget semetipsum." Matt, xvi. 24. 

Spiritual Rules. 445 


We must always pray and recommend ourselves to 
God. All our good resolutions and all our promises 
end in smoke when we neglect to pray; for by not 
praying we are deprived of the necessary graces to 
carry them out. / will cry like a young swallow. 1 We 
should always have the mouth open for prayer by say 
ing: O Lord, help me! O Lord, mercy! O Lord, have 
pity on me! Thus the saints have acted, and it is thus 
that they sanctified themselves. 

We should above all ask Jesus Christ for the gift of 
his holy love. St. Francis de Sales said that this gift 
includes all other gifts; for when we love God we try 
to avoid all that which is disagreeable to him, and to 
do all that we can do to please him. Let us also ask 
always for the grace of having great confidence in the 
Passion of Jesus Christ and in the intercession of Mary. 
Let us, moreover, not cease to recommend to God the 
poor souls in purgatory and poor sinners; for such 
prayers are most pleasing to God. 

1 "Sicut pullus hirundinis, sic clamabo." Is. xxxviii. 14. 

446 Appendix. 

Spiritual lilajdms for priests. 

1. To lose all rather than to lose God. 

2. To displease every one rather than to displease 

3. It is only sin that we have to fear, and that should 
grieve us. 

4. To die rather than knowingly to commit a sin, 
even if it were only a venial sin. 

5. All things come to an end; the world is a scene 
that passes very quickly. 

6. Every moment is a treasure for eternity. 

7. Everything that pleases God is good. 

8. Do what you would wish to have done at the hour 
of death. 

9. Live as if there were no other beings in the world 
except God and yourself. 

10. God alone makes man contented. 

IT. There is no other good than God; there is no 
other evil than sin. 

12. Never do anything for your own gratification. 

13. The more one mortifies one s self in this life, the 
more joy one shall have in the next. 

14. To the friends of God the bitter is sweet, and the 
sweet bitter. 

15. He that wishes what God wishes has all that he 

16. The will of God renders sweet all that which is 

17. In sickness one may see who has real virtue. 

18. Whoever desires nothing of this world has no 
need of anything. 

Spiritual Maxims. 447 

19. Do not defer carrying out your good resolutions 
if you do not wish to retrograde. 

20. To trouble one s self about faults committed is 
not humility, but pride. 

21. We are only that which we are before God. 

22. He that loves God desires to love rather than to 

23. He that wishes to sanctify himself should banish 
from his heart all that which is not God. 

24. One is not entirely for God when one seeks some 
thing that is not God. 

25. Pain, poverty, and humiliation were the com 
panions of Jesus Christ; may they also be ours. 

26. Mental agitation, whatever may have been the 
cause, does not come from God. 

27. The humble man believes himself unworthy of all 
honor, and worthy of contempt. 

28. When one thinks of hell, which one has deserved, 
one suffers with resignation every pain. - 

29. Forget yourself, and God will think of you. 

30. Love contempt, and you will find God. 

31. He that contents himself with that which is less 
good is not far from evil. 

32. God esteems but little him who seeks to be es 

33. The saints always speak of God; they always 
speak ill of themselves, and always well of others. 

34. The curious are always distracted. 

35. Woe to him that loves health more than sanctity. 

36. The devil is always in pursuit of the idle. 

37. A vain priest is but the sport in the hand of the 

38. He that wishes to live in peace ought to mortify 
all his passions without excepting any one of them. 

39. St. Joseph Calasanctius used to say: " The servant 
of God speaks little, works much, bears all." 

448 Appendix. 

40. The saints try to be saints, and not merely to ap 
pear to be saints. 

41. We shall never reach any high degree of perfec 
tion as long as we are not fond of prayer. 

42. One must first be a reservoir to collect, and then 
only can we be a canal to pour out. 

43. Every attachment hinders us from belonging en 
tirely to God. 

44. The priest should not perceive anything but Jesus 
Christ and the good pleasure of Jesus Christ. 

45. In our actions that become conspicuous pride is 
often hidden. 

46. To offer one s self entirely to God is an .excellent 
preparation for Communion. 

47. When you walk in places that are inhabited keep 
your eyes cast down; think that you are a priest, and 
not a painter. 

Exhortation to Young Students. 449 

(*I)0rtati0n to f otwg Iflen tofyo 3et)0te l)etttselt)es 10 
tl)e Stub]} of tije Ecclesiastical Sciences.* 

They should, above all, endeavor to make Progress in the 
Science of the Saints. 

ST. PAUL says, in speaking of worldly science: Knowl 
edge puff eth up; but charity edifieth. And if any man think 
that he knoweth anything, he hath not yet known as he ought 
to know? Worldly science when united with divine love 
is of great use for us and for others; but when it is 
separated from charity, it causes us great injury by 
rendering us proud and inciting us to despise others; 
for as much as the Lord is lavish of his graces towards 
the humble, so much is he chary of them towards the 

Happy the man to whom God gives the science of the 
saints, as he gave it to Jacob: She gave him the knowledge 
of holy things. Scripture speaks of this gift as greater 
than all other gifts. Oh how many men live full of 
themselves because of their knowledge of mathematics, 
belles-lettres, foreign languages, and antiquities, which 
are of no service to religion, and are of no help as to 
spiritual profit! Of what use is it to possess such a 
science, to know so many fine things, if one does not 

1 " Scientia inflat, charitas vero sedificat. Si quis autem se existimat 
scire aliquid, nondum cognovit quemadmodum oporteat eum scire." 
I Cor. viii. i. 
,- 2 " Dedit illi scientiam sanctorum." Wisd. x. 10. 

* In the Italian editions this Exhortation is joined as an appendix to 
the Rules for Seminaries, which may be found in a subsequent volume. 


450 Appendix. 

know how to love God and to practise virtue ? The 
wise men of this world, who seek only to acquire a great 
name, are deprived of the celestial lights that the Lord 
gives to the simple: Thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and prudent (the wise and prudent of the world), 
and hast revealed them to the little ones. 1 The little ones are 
the simple minds that bestow all their care on pleasing 
God alone. 

St. Augustine proclaims him happy who knows God, 
his grandeur, his goodness, even though he should be 
ignorant of all other things: "Happy he that knows 
Thee, although he knows nothing of those things." 2 He 
that knows God cannot but love him; now he that loves 
God is wiser than all the men of letters that know not 
how to love him. " The unlettered," exclaims the same 
holy Doctor, " will rise up and bear away heaven." 1 
How many rustics, how many poor villagers, reach 
sanctity and obtain eternal life, the enjoyment of which 
for a moment is better than the acquisition of all the 
goods of this world! The Apostle wrote to the Corin 
thians: for I judged not Myself to know anything among 
you but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified* How happy 
should we be if we succeed in knowing Jesus crucified, 
in knowing the love that he has borne us and the love 
that he has merited for us by sacrificing for us his life 
on the cross, and if by studying such a book we suc 
ceed in loving him with an ardent love! 

A great servant of God, Father Vincent Caraffa, 
writing to some young ecclesiastics who were engaged 
in studying to qualify themselves for the work of sav- 

1 " Abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus, et revelasti ea par- 
vulis." Matt. xi. 25. 

" Beatus, qui te scit, etiamsi ilia nesciat." Conf. \. 5, c. 4 

3 " Surgunt indocti, et coelum rapiunt!" Conf. 1. 8, c. 8. 

4 " Non enim judicavi me scire aliquid inter vos, nisi Jesum Chris 
turn, et hunc crucifixum." I Cor. ii. 2. 

Exhortation to Young Students. 45 1 

ing souls, said to them: " To bring about great con 
versions among souls it is better to be a man of much 
prayer than a man of great eloquence; for the eternal 
truths that convert souls are preached differently by 
the heart than they are by the lips." The true minis 
ters of the Gospel should, therefore, lead a life that 
shows itself to be in agreement with what they teach; 
they should, in a word, appear like men who, detached 
from the world and the flesh, seek only to procure the 
glory of God and to make him loved by all. This is 
the reason why Father Caraffa added: " Bestow all your 
care on giving yourself up to the exercise of divine 
love; only the love of God, as soon as it possesses our 
heart, detaches it from all inordinate love, and renders 
it pure by stripping it of earthly affections." " A pure 
heart," says St. Augustine, " is a heart empty of all 
Cupidity." In fact, adds St. Bernard, he that loves 
rod, thinks only of loving him, and desires nothing 
else: "He that loves, loves and knows nothing else." 2 
When one. burns with the love for God, one knows not 
how to devote one s self to the love of any earthly 

Hence, just as students should give from year to year 
proofs of their advancement in the sciences, so those 
that wish to sanctify themselves should labor to acquire 
not only from year to year, but from day to day, a 
great love for God. They should endeavor to increase 
in themselves holy love by often repeating acts of love, 
by offering to God every action that they begin, with the 
intention of performing it only to please him, and by 
always begging him to grant them the light and the 
strength necessary to accomplish the good desires with 
which he inspires them. 

St. Thomas of Villanova used to say: "To convert 

1 " Cor purum est cor vacuum ab omni cupiditate." 

2 " Qui amat, amat, et aliud novit nihil." In Cant. s. 83. 

45 2 Appendix. 

sinners and make them come forth from the mire of 
their iniquities, we need arrows of fire; but how can 
these arrows of fire come forth from an icy heart that 
is not animated by the love of God ?" Experience per 
mits us to see that a priest with moderate science, but 
burning with love for Jesus Christ, draws more souls 
to God than many learned and excellent orators who 
charm people by their eloquence. The latter, with their 
beautiful thoughts, their rare acquirements, and their 
ingenious reflections, send away their hearers greatly 
satisfied with the discourse that they have heard; but 
they go away deprived of the love for God, and per 
haps colder than when they came. But is such a suc 
cess of profit to the common good ? and what profit 
does the preacher draw therefrom, if it is not to be 
more full of himself and more responsible before God, 
since instead of the fruit that his sermon could have 
produced, he obtains only vain praises that yield 
nothing? He who, on the contrary, preaches Jesus 
crucified in a simple manner, not to be praised, but 
only to make him loved, descends from the pulpit rich 
in the merit of all the good that he has done, or at least 
that he desired to do for his hearers. 

All that has been said above concerns not only 
preachers, but also those that are charged with teaching 
and those that hear confessions. How much good can 
not a professor do in teaching sciences, in instilling into 
his pupils the maxims of true piety! The same thing 
holds good of confessors. 

To this must be added the happy fruits that one may 
produce in conversing with others. We cannot always 
preach; but what good may not be done in conversa 
tion by a priest, who is well instructed and who is holy, 
when he speaks adroitly, when an occasion presents it 
self, of the vanity of worldly grandeur, of conformity to 
the will of God, of the necessity of recommending one s 

Exhortation to Young Students. 453 

self without ceasing to the protection of Heaven in the 
midst of so many temptations with which we have to 

May the Lord deign to give us the light and the 
strength of which we stand in need in order to employ 
the days that still remain to us in loving him and in 
doing his will, since only this is profitable, and all the 
rest is lost! 

454 Appendix. 

^Discourse 011 tl)e K mssitj] of Iftctttal JJragct far 

IF we do not try to become saints, it will be difficult 
to sanctify others. If therefore we wish to produce 
much fruit in souls, we must necessarily practise medi 
tation, and practise it much. Without this practise what 
good can we ever hope for ourselves and for others ? 
With desolation is all the land made desolate, says the Holy 
Ghost, why? because there is none that considereth in the 
heart. 1 The Holy Ghost speaks thus of the neglect of 
mental prayer; and if it is this that causes the ruin of 
every one, with how much greater reason should not 
this defect cause the ruin of the priest! 

If you desire to see what is the necessity of mental 
prayer for the priest, you should this evening consider 
with me these two points: I say, in speaking of a priest 
without mental prayer: 

First, it is difficult for him to save his soul; 

Secondly, it is impossible for him to attain perfection. 

Let us pray to the Holy Ghost to enlighten us. 

1 " Desolatione desolata est omnis terra: quia nullus est qui recogitet 
corde." Jer. xii. n. 

* This discourse, which remained unpublished till 1869, was found 
among the manuscripts of St. Alphonsus preserved at Rome. From 
its context we see that it was composed for retreats that are given to 
priests and to candidates for Holy Orders, and it seems that it was com 
posed before 1737, since the author gives on page 446 only the title of 
Blessed to St. John Francis Regis, canonized at this time by Pope 
Clement XI L ED. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 455 

/ will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes. * 
Ah! how happy should I be, O my God! if I were but 
dust and ashes! I am worse than that: I am a rebel, 
having had the boldness to offend Thee, who art the 
supreme good! But Thou hast come into this world in 
order that poor sinners may have life, and may have it 
more abundantly? Enlighten me, therefore, O Lord! 
speak to me, for I wish to listen to Thee: Speak, Lord, 
for Thy servant heareth? Tell me what I have to do to 
please Thee and to sanctify myself. 

Mary, my hope; thou dost fulfil the beautiful office, 
so conformable to thy heart all full of love and mercy, 
of being pacifier between sinners and God; for pity s 
sake, exert thyself also in my behalf, O my Sovereign 


Without Mental Prayer it is Difficult for a Priest to Save 
his Soul. 

With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there 
is none that considereth in the heart. These last words, 
considereth in the heart, I understand to mean mental 
prayer: it is to meditate on the law of God, on eternity, 
on one s own duties, on the things of God. Let us see 
how difficult it is for a priest to save his soul without 
prayer; here is the way in which I reason: 

It is certain that a priest, in order to save his soul, 
must fulfil all the duties of a priest, duties of which 
we have already shown the greatness; and to fulfil all 
these duties he needs to be continually aided by the 
hand of the all-powerful God. It is true that God is 
ready to aid us; but what does the Lord desire ? He 

1 " Loquar ad Dominum meum, cum sim pulvis et r.inis." Gen, 
xviii. 27. 

2 " Ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant." John, x. 10. 

3 " Loquere, Domine, quia audit servus. tuus." i Kings, iii. 9. 

456 Appendix. 

desires that we should continually ask all the help that 
is necessary for us; and if we do not ask him for it he 
will not give it to us. You know the common opinion 
of theologians, that prayer, that is to say, the asking 
for graces, on the part of every one that has attained 
the age of reason, is necessary as a means of salvation; 
otherwise we cannot be saved. Ask, and you shall receive, 
He that does not ask will not receive. 

Now a priest that does not make mental prayer, 
when will he reflect on his duties as a priest? under 
what circumstances will he ask God for the necessary 
help ? It will happen, that walking blindly without 
looking where or how he walks, he will hardly think of 
asking God s help; he will hardly think of the necessity 
in which he is of asking for it; or rather, without prayer 
he will not even think of his duties as a priest; and so 
how will he save his soul ? Cardinal Bellarmine thinks 
it to be morally impossible for any Christian to fulfil 
the duties of a simple Christian without mental prayer; 
for how much greater reason should we not believe 
that this is impossible for a priest who has greater 
duties than a simple Christian! My dear patroness St. 
Teresa also says that to obtain God s grace the only 
door is mental prayer, and she speaks expressly of men 
tal prayer: " This door being closed," she says, " I know 
not how grace will reach the soul." If the saint does 
not know, I declare that I know much less how a priest 
without mental prayer will receive all the graces neces 
sary to save his soul. 

Let us consider, in the first place, how much light a 
priest needs for himself and for others so as to save his 
soul. He must keep himself pure in the midst of the 
seductions of the flesh; he must avoid the occasions in 
which he is exposed to lose God; he must give wise 
counsel to others, since he is the master of the people, 
1 Life, ch. 8.. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 45 7 

especially if he is a confessor; he has to place souls on 
the road that leads to God, so often to resolve doubts 
unexpectedly, to give advice in every confession, and 
then to render an account of all to Jesus Christ. 

Now how will he receive this light unless he makes 
mental prayer ? 

Mental prayer, says St. Bonaventure, 1 is a torch 
which on this earth of darkness shows us the road on 
which we should walk. St. Bernard, treating of the 
same subject, says that mental prayer is like a mirror: 
this comparison pleases me much. If one has a stain on 
one s countenance and one looks in the mirror, one 
sees it and takes it away; without this mirror, the stain 
remains, and will always remain; as one does not see 
it, one does not take it away. So it is with mental 
prayer: if we have a defect, if we find ourselves in a 
dangerous occasion, when we go to mental prayer, as if 
going before the mirror, we see in our conscience this 
defect that we have, we see this danger of losing God; 
we see it and we take it away. 

Even though one should have had the misfortune of 
falling over the precipice, if one practises mental prayer 
with perseverance, one will surely come forth from it. 
Hence we quote the remark made by a master of the 
spiritual life: With sin there can often be united some act 
virtuous in itself, as, for instance, to be in the state of sin 
and to give alms, to be worldly and to be patient; but 
mental prayer and sin cannot remain united together. 
Why ? Because if we begin voluntarily to make mental 
prayer, there are some that go to mental prayer by 
force, and then it will do them no good, if, I say, we 
go to it voluntarily, either we shall give up mental 
prayer, or we shall give up sin. And according to St. 
Teresa, 2 however great may be the ruin of a soul, if it 
perseveres in mental prayer, it is sure that the Lord will 
1 Diat. sal tit. 2, c. 5. 2 Life, ch. 8, 

45 8 Appendix. 

bring it back to the haven of salvation. But if this soul 
does not go to mental prayer, because it does not think 
of it, or thinks of it but little, it will continue to live in 
its faults, in the dangerous occasions in which it finds 
itself, and it will end by falling into the abyss. Why ? 
Because it walks in darkness, without light; it will find 
itself at the bottom of the precipice without knowing in 
what manner it fell over it. 

Come ye to Him and be enlightened. 1 What light would 
we wish to have if we do not approach God by means 
of mental prayer ? Where have so many saints, I ask, 
where, without studying theology, have so many simple 
men and women, so well learned divine things if it was 
not in mental prayer, this school of the saints ? Such 
was a St. Hildegarde, who composed several books about 
holy Scripture; a St. Magdalene de Pazzi, who spoke 
so admirably of the perfection of God; a St. Teresa, 
who wrote so well on mental prayer that she has be 
come the admiration of the whole world, and the 
Church wishes us to ask God for the grace of profiting 
by her heavenly doctrine: " So we feed to our ghostly 
health upon her heavenly teaching." 5 Let us add a 
St. Thomas Aquinas, who confessed that all that he 
knew he had learnt in mental prayer; likewise a St. 
Bonaventure, who said that he never had any other 
Master than Jesus crucified. Come ye to Him and be en 

Let us, moreover, consider how much strength a priest 
needs to overcome so many enemies, both exterior and 
interior, that are continually laying snares for his soul. 
These enemies are the world, persecutions, human re 
spect, passions, evil inclinations, temptations of the 
devil. Oh, how much more trouble does not the devil 
take to make a priest fall than to make a secular fall! 

1 " Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

2 " Coelestis ejus doctrinae pabulo nutriamur." 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 459 

And why? Because if he succeeds in bringing to his fall 
a priest, he obtains a greater prey, and causes greater 
displeasure to God Again, the fall of a priest is accom 
panied by the fall of many others; for a bad priest by 
falling into the precipice does not fall into it alone; 
he drags down with him many others: and this is the 
reason why the devil makes so many efforts to ruin a 
priesL How, then, can he undertake without mental 
prayer to overcome all these temptiatons, especially if 
he is a secular priest, who has to live in the midst of the 
world, exposed to the danger of meeting with so many 
dangerous objects at times in the same house in which 
he lives? and if he is a confessor, whe n hearing the con 
fessions of young persons, of children, of women; when 
hearing the history of their miseries, of their frailties? 
But then you will say, The priest takes the place of 
God. Ah! dear Fathers, while receiving the sacerdotal 
character, we neverthless remain earthly beings, weak, 
frail, liable to fall. How often must we not, as it were, 
sweat blood in order to overcome a suggestion of the 
devil! And without mental prayer how shall we do this ? 
how shall we acquire the strength to resist so many 
enemies ? Let us hear what St. Teresa says: " He that 
neglects mental prayer has no need of being taken to 
hell by demons: he will cast himself into it." * 

When, on the contrary, we apply to mental prayer, 
what strength do we not continually derive from this holy 
exercise in order to resist all the attacks of hell! What 
shalt thou see in the Sulamitess but the companies of campst 
The Sulamitess represents the soul given to mental 
prayer, which by this powerful means becomes for all 
its enemies terrible as an army set in array? The soul is 
then able to conquer all its passions, all bad inclinations. 

1 Life, ch. 19. 

" Quid videbis in Sulamite nisi chores castrorum ?" Cant. vii. i. 
3 " Terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata." Cant. vi. 3. 

460 Appendix. 

These vicious tendencies are produced only by our 
corrupt nature, and it is very difficult to conquer them 
without much mental prayer; but by means of this 
prayer we overcome them easily. The soul in mental 
prayer is like iron in the fire: when the iron is cold it is 
difficult to work; but when it is put into the fire it be 
comes soft, and allows itself to be easily worked: so it 
is with the soul. A master of the spiritual life calls it a 
furnace, because as the fire softens the iron and renders 
it easy to work, so mental prayer makes it easy for the 
soul to overcome its passions. For example, some one 
receives an affront, an injury that wounds his self-love: 
before mental prayer, it is very difficult to him to over 
come the passion that incites him to grow angry, to de 
fend himself, and even to furnish him at times with 
pretexts to make him believe that this is necessary. 
The iron is yet cold, it must be put into the fire. Let 
this troubled soul enter mental prayer, and at once the 
sweet flame of the Holy Ghost touches it, and an in 
terior voice tells him: Is it not better to bear that with 
out resenting it ? Leave rather your defence to God, 
as your divine Master did when he was calumniated, he 
who was more innocent than you! At once the iron loses 
its hardness; the soul is softened, is appeased: with 
out mental prayer, it would have been otherwise. 

St. John Chrysostom l says that in a soul mental 
prayer is as a fountain in a garden. Oh, how beautiful 
is a garden when a fountain continually waters it with 
its vivifying waters ! how fresh the verdure, how resplen 
dent the flowers, how abundant the fruit! Take away 
the fountain, and everything will languish and dry up 
grass, flowers, fruits, and plants. Hence how quickly 
does one recognize a priest who makes mental prayer! 
See his manner of saying Mass, of preaching, of con 
versing! See his humility and modesty in his actions, in 

1 Ad pop. Ant. horn. 79. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 46 1 

his whole conduct! He is the garden of the Lord, a 
garden enclosed. 1 It is closed to vices, to passions; it is 
filled with flowers and fruits of virtues; it is a paradise: 
Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of 
the orchard? And why ? Because it is the fountain of gar 
dens, the well of living waters? Mental prayer is the 
source of living waters that continually waters the gar 
den. Take away mental prayer, take away the fountain, 
and then we say Mass and the Office with precipitation; 
we preach in a different manner. Show me your beauti 
ful detachment, your beautiful humility, your beautiful 
modesty, . . . after the fountain has been taken away. 
A priest without mental prayer is a garden without 
water, just as David said of himself in reference to the 
time when he was far from God: My soul is as earth with 
out water unto Thee." He is not even a priest; he is the 
corpse of a priest, according to the saying of St. John 
Chrysostom: " As the body cannot live without the 
soul, so the soul without prayer is dead and malodor 
ous." Oh, how one perceives even from afar the bad 
odor of a priest who does not make mental prayer! 
Happy, on the contrary, he who meditates on the law 
of God, who applies himself to the holy exercise of men 
tal prayer. The Holy Ghost compares him to a tree 
planted by the rivers of water/ 

1 " Hortus conclusus." Cant. iv. 12. 

2 " Emissiones tuae, paradisus malorum punicorum, cum pomorum 
fructibus." Ibid. 13. 

3 " Fons hortorum, puteus aquarum viventium." Ibid. 15. 

4 " Anima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi." Ps. cxlii. 6. 

5 "Sicut corpus, sine anima, non potest vivere, sic anima, sine ora- 
tione, mortua est, et graviter olens." De or. Deo, 1. i. 

6 Ps. i. 3. 

462 Appendix. 


Without Mental Prayer it is Impossible for the Priest 
to Attain Perfection. 

We now enter upon the second point, in which we 
must consider that, as it is difficult for a priest to save 
his soul without mental prayer, so it is impossible for 
him to attain perfection. 

I suppose that, without dwelling specially on this 
point, every priest well knows the obligation under 
which he is of striving to attain perfection. Let us 
therefore come to the point. 

Observe, says the Holy Spirit to us, that the trees 
planted far from the water, dry up, grow but little, or 
do not grow straight, while those that are found on the 
banks of a stream are vigorous, straight, and high. Thus 
men of mental prayer show themselves full of life and 
strength : they are straight, having only God before their 
eyes; they attain a great height, growing always in vir 
tue: Like a tree which is planted near the running waters, 
which shall bring forth its fruit in due season- and his leaf 
shall not fall off. 1 They will not lose a leaf, that is, they 
will not lose a moment of their life, because either actu 
ally or virtually they always advance in perfection or in 
divine love, holy charity, which is the cause of per 
fection in our soul, as St. Paul says: Have charity, which 
is the bond of perfection? The sweet furnace in which 
souls are inflamed by this celestial fire, with which the 
saints on earth and the blessed in heaven are burning, 
is mental prayer: In my meditation a fire shall flame out, 
says David. 3 

1 " Tamquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, 
quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo; et folium ejus non defluet." 
Ps. i. 3. 

2 " Charitatem habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis." Col. iii. 14. 

3 " In meditatione mea exardescet ignis." Ps. xxxviii. 4. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 463 

We complain that we are lukewarm and feeble; but 
need we be astonished at this if we remain from mental 
prayer? Why do we not try to enter often this happy 
cellar of love, where, having been scarcely introduced, 
the Spouse of the Canticles feels herself all set on fire 
with charity ? He brought me into the cellar of wine, He set 
in order charity in me. 1 

We feel ourselves cold in divine love: why, then, do 
we not often go to converse with God ? Why do we not 
approach Him who is called a devouring fire: Thy God 
is a consuming fire? We approach God by means of 
mental prayer, says St. John Climacus. 3 Let us sup 
pose the heart to be very cold, entirely deprived of love 
towards God: if it perseveres in mental prayer, it is 
certain that this God, who is so faithful and never 
allows himself to be outdone in generosity, will end by 
inflaming it with his holy love; the fire should produce 
its effect. If at times, while conversing with a person 
who truly loves God, we feel ourselves excited by the 
ardor that he communicates to us to love God also, how 
much more shall we not be inflamed with this celestial 
fire by often conversing with God himself! 

God speaks, yes, God speaks to souls that seek him 
sincerely; but when does he speak to them? Is it in 
society, in visits, where we lose whole hours in useless 
conversation? No; there God does not speak. If a 
soul wishes to hear me, says the Lord, let it leave the 
society of men, let it retire into solitude, and make 
mental prayer; it is there that I wish to speak to it: / 
will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her 
heart." There I will make the soul hear my word, this 

1 " Introduxit me in cellam vinariam, ordinavit in me charitatem." 
Cant. ii. 4. 

2 " Deus tuus ignis consumens est." Dcut. iv. 24. 

" Oratio est hominis conjunctio cum Deo." Scala par. gr. 28. 
4 " Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Os. ii. 14. 

464 Appendix. 

word full and substantial, which in making itself heard, 
produces the effect that it signifies, and is not only an 
exhortation, but a power that makes others act rightly. 

Where, in fact, have the saints learned to love God if 
it was not in mental prayer ? Where did a St. Philip 
Neri receive a love so ardent, that his poor heart, not 
being able to support it, two ribs expanded so as to 
give more space to its palpitations ? Where was a St. 
Peter of Alcantara inflamed with such a love for God 
that, in order not to die of this love, he was obliged to 
go into the field, and sometimes throw himself upon the 
ice ? Where was a St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi in 
flamed with the same fire, she going nearly out of her 
self on account of this love ? Where was a St. Teresa 
wounded, she who has written of herself, that when 
she began to practise mental prayer, only then she be 
gan to feel what it is to love God ? 

Ah! dear Fathers, let us not think that mental prayer 
is an exercise only peculiar to solitaries, and not to 
those that are occupied in an active life. Tertullian calls 
all priests " persons devoted to prayer and contempla 
tion." The Apostles were not solitaries; they were 
very great workers of the Gospel throughout the world. 
Now what did they do in order to have time to devote 
themselves to mental prayer? They appointed deacons 
who were charged with the care of inferior things, and 
they said: But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, 
and to the ministry of the word? Note the words, prayer and 
the ministry of the word; at first prayer, and then preach 
ing, because without prayer we can do no good. What 
matters it that we are not solitaries, called to a con 
templative life? If we wish to sanctify ourselves by 
becoming good evangelical laborers, it will be neces- 

1 " Genus deditum oration! et contemplation!." 

2 " Nos vero orationi et ministerio verbi instantes erimus. " Acts, 
vi. 4. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 465 

sary that we apply ourselves to mental prayer, and 
much mental prayer; not a quarter, or half an hour in 
passing, but much more, much more; otherwise it will, 
morally speaking, be impossible for us to become saints. 

In the midst of our greatest labors we must always 
find time to give a little rest to our soul, as Jesus Christ 
has enjoined upon the Apostles: Rest a little. 1 In retreat 
and in mental prayer the soul sits down, as it were, and 
takes rest, and gathers new strength to work better. 
He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace, because he hath 
taken it upon himself? When a soul comes forth from 
mental prayer it is quite changed. Hence I think 
highly of the good practice of those that reserve for 
themselves every week a day of retreat, a day entirely 
consecrated to the repose of the soul. On this day we 
do not hear confessions, we do not study: we apply 
only to mental prayer, to spiritual reading, to holy 
solitude. There are religious institutes that allow every 
week a day of recreation for the body, in order that the 
body may have more strength to work, and be better 
able to resist fatigue. Why should we not also give to 
the soul a day of spiritual recreation, so that it may be 
better able to bear the fatigue, considering that in ex 
terior works it becomes always a little dissipated ? 

Yes, I repeat, we stand much in need of mental 
prayer, of not a quarter of an hour, nor half an hour, 
but much more. Show me an apostolic laborer who 
has sanctified himself without much mental prayer; as 
for myself, I can find none. I see that St. Francis 
Xavier, the wonder of apostolic workers, spent most of the 
night in the churches to make mental prayer, and that 
after a short rest which he took in the sacristy he went 
to pour out the affections of his heart before the Blessed 
Sacrament, where the Lord so filled him with his con- 

1 " Requiescite pnsillum." Mark, vi. 31. 

2 " Scdebit solitarius, et tacebit, quia levavit super se. " Lam. Hi. 28. 

466 Appendix. 

solations that he cried out: "It is enough, O Lord, it 
is enough!" : I read of the Blessed John Francis Regis, 
the great missionary of France, that after having spent 
the whole day in preaching and hearing confessions, 
instead of resting, he went before the door of the 
church, which was closed, and conversed there with his 
God during the whole night. You know what were the 
labors of a St. Philip Neri, and what was his love for 
prayer. St. Vincent Ferrer, the apostle of Spain, used 
to make before preaching an hour s meditation. All 
evangelical laborers have only imitated in this their 
model and chief, Jesus Christ, who spent sometimes the 
whole night in prayer: He passed the whole night in the 
prayer of God? 

Undoubtedly, when God commands us to leave men 
tal prayer in order to labor for the salvation of souls 
we must obey by leaving God for God. Let us then 
apply ourselves to the good of our neighbor as much as 
it is necessary; but let us not lose time: let us avoid 
useless conversations, and not listen to vain discourses. 
The time lost is a thing that God does not command. 
As soon as we are free let us return to prayer. And 
even in the midst of our occupations, while hearing 
confessions, preaching, or doing anything else, we 
must always preserve in our hearts the little cell of St. 
Catharine of Sienna, where we may be anxious to enter 
from time to time in order to speak to God by an act 
of love or some ejaculatory prayer. We must also take 
care not to lose sight of holy solitude, and not cease to 
love it. We should imitate the Spouse of the Canticles, 
who said to his Well-beloved: Flee away, O My beloved, 
. . upon the mountains of aromatic al spices? She did not 
wish that the divine Spouse should depart from her and 

1 "Sat est, Domine, sat est!" 

2 " Erat pernoctans in oratione Dei." Luke, vi. 12. 

3 " Fuge, Dilecte mi ... super monies aromatum." Cant. viii. 14. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 46 7 

abandon her; but knowing that he was accustomed to 
speak in solitude, she begged him to retire to the solitary 
mountains, so that she might be able to converse with 
him alone. It is thus that in our labors, and then more 
than ever, we should sigh after happy solitude, desiring 
ardently, as a thirsty hart desires the fountain of 
waters, to see the moment of prayer arrive in order to 
go to converse alone with God. 

And how long should we converse with God ? Would 
it be a very great thing to give ourselves up to prayer 
for two hours a day, one hour in the morning, the other 
in the evening? Let us devote ourselves to it at least 
for an hour every day. Ah! I would regard it as a suc 
cess if, with God s help, I should obtain as the fruit of 
this retreat that some among you, even if it were only 
one of you, would desire to increase a little the time 
given to prayer. You at least who are candidates for 
ordination do so; increase the time of mental prayer; 
all depends on the good habit that you acquire in the 
beginning. For those who for a number of years have 
the habit of making, for example, a half-hour s medi 
tation, and not more, it would be difficult to add 
more to it; they would believe that it would be an in 
jury to them to add more mental prayer. 

No, I repeat, it is not a great sacrifice to spend every 
day two hours in conversing with Jesus Crucified or 
with the Blessed Sacrament. / sat down under His 
shadow, whom I desired? Oh! what a paradise to be able 
to speak with Jesus Christ exposed during the Forty 
Hours devotion, or under other circumstances, or to 
visit some solitary church where the Blessed Sacrament 
is kept! Seculars, to our shame be it said, spend there 
sometimes whole hours. It is precisely to converse 
often with us that our dear Saviour remains on earth in 

1 " Sub umbra illins quern desideraveram, sedi." Cant. ii. 3. 

468 Appendix. 

the Blessed Sacrament; when he is shut up there, he 
asks, he prays, so to speak, that we go to speak to him. 

But you will perhaps say, Two hours! that is too 
much. How! it would be too much, two hours of men 
tal prayer! Do you not then know what mental prayer 
is? It consists in speaking familiarly with God, as a 
friend speaks with a friend, says St. Teresa. In mental 
prayer we find those wings so greatly desired by the 
Royal Prophet, by the aid of which he raised himself up 
to perfection: -Who will give me wings like a dove, and I 
will fly and be at rest? 1 What perfection could we ever 
acquire without mental prayer ? It is an excellent 
school in which one learns the heavenly science of the 
saints. Permit me still to say before finishing, So 
many studies to which we devote ourselves, so many 
languages that we wish to know, so much knowledge, 
so many various sciences that we try to master, are 
without doubt good: no one denies that; they may be 
useful. It would, however, be better first to study Holy 
Scripture, the Canons, Dogmatic Theology, to be ready 
to satisfy also this modern erudition that is diffused 
throughout the world. But what is above all neces 
sary to us is the beautiful science of the saints, which 
consists in loving God; a science that we learn, not in 
books, but before the Crucifix, before the Blessed 

Mental prayer, then, dear Fathers, mental prayer! 
The more we desire to labor for the salvation of souls, 
the more we need light and strength, since we are to give 
light and strength to others. What warmth and what 
light can be communicated to other lamps by a lamp 
that scarcely burns, that is in danger of being extin 
guished ? Ah! would to God that it would not occur 
daily that a priest who devotes himself to the salvation 

5 " Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbae, et volabo, et requiescam." 
Ps. liv. 7. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 469 

of souls, having himself but little fervor, little love for 
God, become-s more and more lukewarm, even falls 
sometimes over the precipice, and ends by losing God! 
How many examples of a similar misfortune do exist! 
Do you not yourselves know of some priest, who, wish 
ing to hear confessions, to convert others, has after 
wards succumbed to the occasions, and in them has lost 

After this we say that it is too much to spend two 
hours in mental prayer! Such was not the thought of 
a St. Francis Borgia, who after eight hours of prayer 
asked the favor of a quarter of an hour more; a St. 
Rose of Lima, who spent twelve hours a day in prayer; 
a St. Anthony the Abbot, who, after having devoted 
the whole night to prayer, complained in the morning 
that the sun arose so soon and obliged him to finish. 
And how many young virgins, how many seculars, even 
mechanics, make four, five, and six hours of mental 
prayer! Is this not a subject of confusion for us who 
are priests ? Will they not have to judge us on the last 
day? Ah, priests of the Lord! let us not allow our 
selves to be surpassed by others in the love for God, 
while as priests we are under greater obligations than 
others to love him. Let us not lose any more time; 
who knows how many days are still left us to live ? Let 
us love God, at least on account of the great desire and 
the firm will that he has of being loved by us who are 
his priests. 

O my God! it is then true that Thou wishest to be 
loved by me. And of what use will life be if I do not 
employ it entirely to love Thee, who art my Lord and 
my God, my supreme and only good ? I am not worthy 
to love Thee; but Thou art infinitely worthy of being 
loved; Thou hast all the qualities that render Thee 
amiable: Thou art beautiful, loving, beneficent, faith 
ful; what dost Thou need more to be loved ? There 

470 Appendix. 

remains only one thing to be done: it is, that I love 
Thee. But why should I not love Thee, O my God! 
Why ? what should I love if I do not love Thee ? Out 
side of Thee, to whatever side I turn, I find nothing 
amiable; I see only creatures, earthly objects; I see 
only smoke and misery. " O fire that dost always 
burn," I will say with St. Augustine, "inflame me!" 
O God, who art all afire with love, thoroughly inflame 
me, consume me with love for Thee! 

Have we a better means to love God than continually 
to ask him for his holy love ? I desire, says Jesus 
Christ to us, I desire to inflame thy heart as thou desirest, 
thou who art my priest; but come to mental prayer: 
Arise, My love, my beautiful one, and come? I expect thee 
in solitude; it is there that I have prepared for thee the 
abundance of my favors. 

Ah, dear Fathers, of what advantage is it not to love 
God! The only thing that we find at the moment of 
death will be to have loved God nothing more. If we 
have obtained honors, possessed a convenient house, suc 
ceeded in our undertakings, at the end what shall we 
find ? Nothing but that we have loved God. Alas! 
what are we doing in this world, if we are not occupied 
therein in loving God ? Should we seek to amass 
riches, to gain the esteem of others, to enjoy pleasures, 
to acquire honors ? What interest have we in the 
world ? / have chosen you out of the world? God has 
withdrawn us from the world, and we should wish to 
throw ourselves again into it? Ah! the world, honors, 
pleasures! let us live, and let us live only in order to 
love God; and to do this, let us devote ourselves to 
prayer, to prayer. By this means we shall have the 

1 " O ignis qui semper ardes! accende me." Solil. an. ad D. c. 19. 

2 " Veni, columba mea in foraminibus petrae, in caverna maceriae."- 
Cant. ii. 13. 

3 " Elegi vos de mundo. " John, xv. 19. 

Necessity of Mental Prayer. 4 7 1 

happiness of leaving this world while thanking God, like 
the glorious martyr St. Agatha, who said at the moment 
of her death: " O Lord, who hast taken from me the 
love of the world! receive now my soul." Ah! a thou 
sand times happy shall we be if we can then also say: 
" The kingdom of this world and all the beauty of life 
I have esteemed as nothing, for the excellency of the 
love of Jesus Christ my Lord." 

Mary, my tender Mother! thou whose whole life 
was a continual prayer, since even sleep did not hinder 
thee from keeping thyself united with God, deign to 
remember us. Thou didst do to St. Rose the charity to 
awaken her when it was time for prayer: in the same 
way, when thou seest us fallen asleep in negligence, in 
lukewarmness, have the kindness to come to awaken 
us, and to recall us to the duty of attending to prayer, 
which should inflame us with love for God and for thee, 
so that afterwards we may be able to go to love thee 
for all eternity in paradise. 

Live Jesus and Mary: with Joseph and Teresa! 

1 " Domine, qui abstulisti a me amorem sseculi, accipe animam 
meam." Off. 5 febr. 

2 " Regnum mundi et omnem ornatum sseculi contempsi, propter 
amorem Domini mei Jesu Christi!" Comm. non Virg. 



ABNEGATION, see Interior Mortification. 

AMBITION, it causes the ruin of souls, 351. 

ANGER, it must be repressed, 323. 

APPETITE, see Taste. 

AVARICE, horror that a priest should have of it, 345. 


BISHOPS, their responsibility with regard to Masses celebrated with- 
out due respect, 223. As to what concerns the candidates for 
ordination, see Vocation. 

BLESSED SACRAMENT, daily visit to it, in what it consists, 432. 

BLINDNESS of the soul caused by impurity, 113. 


CHARITY, we should render good for evil, 444. Charity that a con 
fessor should have, 274. 

CHASTITY, the merit of this virtue, 243; its necessity in the priest, 
108, 243, and in the candidate for the priesthood, 197; means of 
preserving chastity, 247, 309, 375, 435; dangers to be avoided, 
252, 276, 435. 

CLERIC, what this name signifies, 54. 

COMMUNION, it effaces venial sins, 103; after Communion the Lord 
dispenses his grace most abundantly, 227. 

COMPANY, DANGEROUS, we must avoid it, 254, 257, 435. 

CONFESSORS: power that they exercise, 26, charity and firmness 
which they must have, 274; many err by too great rigor or too 
great indulgence, 20, 277; how to act in regard to those living in 
the occasion of sin, 281, and those who are relapsing sinners, 
283, 285, and habitual sinners, 285. Obligation for every priest 
to hear confessions, and to render himself capable of doing so, 
158, 182, 265, 271, The knowledge required to hear confessions 

474 Index. 

well, 273. When one may shorten the thanksgiving to go to 
hear confessions, 429. 

CONFIDENCE with which sinners should be animated, 21 Our faults 
should not make us lose confidence, 318, 436. Confidence that 
one should have in the Blessed Virgin, 414. 

CONFORMITY to the will of God, a principal means of sanctifying one s 
self, 403, 441. 

CONTEMPT must be borne, 320, 330; those that love God are de 
lighted when receiving contempt, 334. 


DEATH, we should wish for it in order to go promptly to heaven and 
to be delivered from the danger of losing it, 442. We should 
assist the dying, 181, 193. 

DESIRE for perfection, first means of sanctifying one s self, 391. De 
sire for death, 442. 

DESOLATIONS, spiritual, they cannot prevent us from making medi 
tation, 293. 

DIGNITY of the priest, 23, 154; see Priest. 

DIRECTOR, spiritual, one should obey him as one obeys God, 357, 
358, 434- 

DISTRUST of one s self, necessary to evangelical laborers, 315. 

DRESS of priests, should be modest, 373, 435. 

ELOQUENCE simple and popular, the most profitable manner of preach 
ing, even when the people are well instructed, 269; see Preach 

END of the priesthood, 39, and of the works of the priest, 19, 177, 
217, 267. 

END, final, the people as well as priests, should often be put in mind 
of it, 20. 

EXAMPLE, or good example which the priest must give, 62, 140, 230, 
239, 266, 451, 454. 

EXAMPLES quoted: the respect that princes should show to the priest, 
30; even the angels honor him, 31; the saints dreaded the 
sacerdotal office, 39, 186; zeal for the salvation of souls, 170; 
reward of this zeal, 174; zeal in regard to the saying of Mass, 
228; scandal given by saying Mass without devotion, 221, and 
without making thanksgiving, 226; tepidity in the service of God, 
100; blindness of the soul produced by an impure passion, 116; 
punishment of this vice, 117, 119; means to conquer it, or the 

Index. 475 

recitation of the " Hail Mary," 263; indiscreet severity, 327; 
flight from dangerous occasions, 253, 256; temptations caused by 
looks, 365; modesty of the eyes, 370; consequences of vanity 
and of pride, 310, 312; false humility, 319; sobriety, 374; pen 
ances self imposed, 377; patience amid inconveniences and 
humiliations, 330, 332, 335, 366, 379, 399. 

EXERCISES, spiritual, admonitions necessary for him who gives the 
spiritual exercises to priests, 19, Monthly retreat, recommended, 

EYES, we should mortify them, 367. 


FIRMNESS, necessary to the confessor, 274. 
FORTITUDE, necessary in the confessor, 276. 


GAMES: there are some that are simple, and the others are not suit 
able for priests, 251. 

GLUTTONY, a pernicious vice, which should be overcome before all 
things, 374, 430. 


HABITUAL sinners, how the priest should treat them, 285. 

HAIR, modesty in wearing it, 373. 

HONORS, the priest should be detached from them, 351. 

HUMILITY, a necessary virtue in the priest, 305, especially to obtain 
and to preserve chastity, 260, 309. Practice of humility: to 
have a horror of pride, 309; not to glory in the good that we do, 
312; we must distrust ourselves, 315, accept humiliation, 319, 444. 
False humility, 319, 443. 


IDLENESS, dangerous to chastity, 258. 

INCONTINENCE, the evil that it creates, 107; its malice in a priest, 109; 
its sad consequences, blindness of the soul, 113; obstinacy of 
the will, 117; eternal damnation, 119. Decrees against incontinent 
ecclesiastics, 108. Remedies against this vice, 120; see Chastity. 

INTENTION required to enter holy Orders, 192. Intention or end 
that the evangelical laborer should have, 19, 177, 396. The in 
tention of pleasing God in all things is a great means of sanctify 
ing one s self, 395, 439. 

JESUS CHRIST died to institute the priesthood, and he gives himself 
up into the priest s hands, 26. Price that is attached to the souls of 
men, 167. We must love him in order to preach well, and it is the 

476 Index. 

science of the saints, 296, 450. How much he deserved to be 
loved, 386; and how much he loves a soul that is devoted to him, 
389. He wishes us to think of his Passion, and we cannot often 
think of it without loving him, 215, 387, 438. When we love 
him, we suffer all with joy, 334. We find in him a model of de 
votion to prayer, 289, of meekness, 322, of mortification, 339. 


LAW-SUITS, the priest should not take charge of those of others, nor 
of his own, 349. 

LOVE, divine, science of the saints, true wisdom which we should pre 
fer to everything else, 295, 449, 470; it procures joy in sufferings 
and humiliations, 394; how one acquires it, 391, 395, 436, 438. 
The priest should belong entirely to God, 384. See Jesus Christ 
and Sanctity. 


MANIPLE, its origin, 217. 

MARY, Mother of God, necessity of her intercession, 409, and con 
fidence that we should have in it, 414, how good is devotion 
to Mary in order to obtain and preserve purity, 263. Practice of 
devotion to Mary, 421, 442; fasts in her honor, 431, 442; visits, 
432, 442. A priest should strive to make her loved and honored, 
421, 442. 

MASS, whence its name, 217. Mass renders to God an infinite honor, 
25, 122, 209. Benefit that confers upon the world, 210, 224, and 
what it should above all confer upon the celebrant, 213, 225. In 
Mass, Jesus Christ obeys the priest, 26. Sanctity that it requires 
of the priest, 48, no, 122, 212, 214. The respect and devotion 
with which he should celebrate Mass, 217. How great a crime 
of the priest who celebrates in the state of mortal sin, 125; he 
commits four mortal sins, 129. Faults that many priests commit 
in celebrating, 218, Mass said in less than a quarter of an hour 
canaot be excused from a grievous sin, 220. The preparation, 
213, 428; one should propose to one s self three ends, 217. 
Thanksgiving, 226,428; when one may shorten it, 429. Priests 
who abstain from saying Mass through humility, 228. Responsi 
bility of bishops in regard to Mass, 223. 

MAXIMS, spiritual, for a priest, 446. 

MEEKNESS, merit of this virtue, 322. It gains hearts for God, 332. Its 
practice: to repress anger, 323; to bear with contempt, 330. It 
does not prevent one from being just and severe, 325. We 
should practise it also towards ourselves, 328. 

Index. 477 

MENTAL prayer, how necessary it is to the priest, 214, 267, 289, 428, 
454; without mental prayer it will be difficult for a priest to be 
saved, 455, and impossible for him to attain perfection, 462. 
Mental prayer and mortification are the principal means to 
sanctify one s self, 340. The time that we should give to mental 
prayer, 214, 467. Answer to excuses: spiritual desolation, 294; 
study, 295; labors, 299. We should often meditate on the Pas 
sion of Jesus Christ, 215, 387, 438. 

MODESTY, a virtue necessary to the priest, 240, 372; modesty in 
words, 372, in dress, in his hair, 373, and above all in his looks, 
252, 367. 

MORTIFICATION in general, how necessary it is, 337; it is the first means 
to acquire sanctity, 258, 339; practice: detachment from prop 
erty, 345, from honors, 351, from relatives, 354, from self-will, 
357; means of conquering self-will, 360. Necessity of exterior 
mortification, 362; its fruits, 365; practice: in the pains that 
happen to us, and in lawful pleasures, 365; the eyes, 367; in the 
whole exterior, 371; in the taste or appetite, 374; in the touch, 
377, in the pains that happen of themselves, 379, 399. Sum 
mary, 444. The good that is derived from a mortified life, 383. 


OCCASION, necessity of avoiding it to preserve chastity, 248, 369. 
Remote, proximate, voluntary, necessary occasion, 281. How 
the confessor should act in regard to those in the occasion of sin, 

OFFICE, divine, how to recite it, 302. 

ORDERS, sacred, see Priest, Vocation. 


PARENTS, one need not obey them when there is question of voca 
tion, 190. The priest should be detached from his relatives, 

PARISH PRIESTS, their responsibility in regard to candidates for ordi 
nation, 197. 

PASSIONS should be subjected to reason, 341, and one should apply 
one s self to the subjugation of the dominant passion, 343. 

PATIENCE in pains and humiliations, a great means of sanctifying 
one s self, 379, 399. 

PENANCE administration of the sacrament of penance, see Confessor. 
The priest should often confess, and obey his spiritual director, 
357. 358, 434- Penitential works that should be practised, 377. 

PERFECTION, see Sanctity. 

478 Index. 

PRAYER, should often be recommended, 21; it is particularly neces 
sary for the priest, 289. It is a great means to obtain and to 
preserve chastity, 261. We should pray without ceasing, 445. 
To pray well we should practise mental prayer, 292. 

PREACHING, it is a duty of the priest, 181, 265. We should begin by 
preaching by example, 238, 266, 451, 454. Intention that one 
should have, 20, 177, 267. Success should be expected from the 
divine mercy, 21, 317. It is necessary that the preacher makes 
the discourse his own, 19. He should adopt a simple and 
popular manner, 269, and renounce vain ornaments, 20, 268, 452. 
Respect and sweetness are necessary in order to convince any 
one, 21. He must inspire sinners with confidence, and often 
recommend prayer, 21; frequently remind them of the last 
things, and speak of practical things, 20, 271. 

PREPARATION for Mass, its importance, 213, 429. Preparation is 
twofold: remote and proximate, 214. The priest should propose 
to himself three ends, 217. 

PRIDE, a vice incompatible with chastity, 260, 309. God detests the 
proud, 307. 

PRIEST, SACERDOS and PRESBYTER, explanation of these names, 46, 
157, 234. Dignity of the priest, 23, 154. His power over the 
real body and the mystical body of Jesus Christ, 26, 32, 34. 
Chief titles which, besides that of priest, express his dignity and 
his offices: ambassador of the Church with God, 24; leader of the 
flock of Jesus Christ, 187, 231; creator of his Creator, 35; the 
husbandman of the vineyard of the Lord, 160; a God on earth, 
67, 156; dispenser of the sacraments, 60, and of the royal house of 
God, 187; a celestial man, 78, a man of God, 54; interpreter of 
the divine law, 187; judge, having the power of the keys, 27, 34; 
light of the world, 140, 232; spiritual physician, 160; mediator 
between God and men, 34, 59, 179, 216; minister, ambassador, 
and co-operator of God, 43, 54, 65, 155; minister of the altar, 55; 
mirror of the world, 239; model of virtues, 62, 139, 230; father 
of Christians, 144, 160, 234; the salt of the earth, 140, 159, 232; 
the temple, the house of God, 109, 160; the vicar of Jesus Christ, 
34, 42, 59, 123. He belongs not to himself, but to God, 185. 
His charge is formidable, 39, 43, 48, 157, 178; his duties, see 
Mass, Preaching, Confessors, Sanctity, etc. Reward of his zeal, 
172. If he is a sinner or tepid, he will not easily be converted, 21, 
77, 93. When God wishes to chastise a people, he begins with 
the priests, 83. 

PROPERTY, earthly, one must be detached from it, 345. 

PURITY, see Chastity. 

Index. 479 


READING, spiritual, to be made every day, 431. 

RELAPSING SINNERS, how the priest should treat them, 283, 285. 

RETREAT, monthly, recommended to priests, 434. 

RUBRICS of the Mass, they bind under pain of sin, 218, 220. 

RULE of life for a secular priest, 427. 

RULES spiritual for a priest who aspires to perfection, 436. 

SANCTITY which a priest should have, 48, 97, no, 122, 178, 230, 286. 
Perfection required for admission to holy Orders, 192; it should 
be greater than that of the simply religious, 192. See Chastity, 
Mortification, Mental Prayer, Vocation. Rule of life, 427. Spirit 
ual Rules, 436. Spiritual Maxims, 446. The priest should labor 
for the sanctification of souls, see Souls. 

SCANDAL given by the priest, its gravity, its consequences, 138, 231. 
SCIENCE requisite in order to take holy Orders, 193; in order to hear 

confessions, 273. The science of the saints necessary before all, 

296, 449, 468. 
SERMON, see Preaching. 

SEVERITY, sometimes just and necessary, 326. 
SILENCE, one should love it, and should speak only to edify others, 

37i, 439- 

SiN; gravity of the sins of the priest, 70, 109, 128, 142; chastisement, 
75, 113; the sin of scandal, 138. See Incontinence. The little 
faults about which one cares not disposes one to grievous faults, 
89, 93, 103. A priest cannot be satisfied with avoiding grievous 
sins, 97. How venial sins are cancelled, 102. Sin is incom 
patible with mental prayer, 292. We should avoid every sin, and 
being troubled after sin, 329, 436. The sin of him who enters 
holy Orders without a vocation, 198. The confessor should 
avoid judging lightly that a sin is a mortal sin, 278. 

SOBRIETY, always necessary, 374, 430, especially at supper, 433. 

SOLITUDE, how much one should love it, 439. 

SOULS, the priest should labor for their salvation, 154, 161, 266; 
means to be employed, 178, 265, 422; pleasures that it gives to 
God when we labor for the salvation of souls, 166; reward of his 
zeal, 172. He should, above all, sanctify himself, 298; he should 
fear offices to which the care of souls is attached, 253. 

SPEECH, the priest should speak little and in a proper manner, 371. 

STUDY: it is necessary for the priest to study Moral Theology, 273; 
Study does not prevent one from practising mental prayer, 295; 

480 Index. 

we should, above all, apply ourselves to making progress in the 
science of the saints, 450, 468. 


TASTE, mortification in eating and drinking, 374, 430, 433. 
TEMPTATIONS: the devil tempts one priest more than a hundred 

seculars, 85, 101. We must before all pray in temptations, 261. 

What he must do amid carnal temptations, 262, 435. 
TEPIDITY, a priest is not easily converted from tepidity, 21, 93; his 

state, his conduct, 92. Tepidity disposes one to grave faults, 

88, 97. How does God begin to vomit forth the tepid priest, 96. 
THANKSGIVING after Mass, its importance, the time and the care to 

be given to it, 226, 428; when we may abridge it, 429. 
THEOLOGY, moral, a difficult science and necessary for the priest, 


TOUCH, the sense that must be mortified, 377. , 

TRAFFIC, forbidden to ecclesiastics, 348. 


VANITY, its dangers and its consequences, 312, 316, 396. 

VISITS to be made to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Vir 
gin, 432. 

VOCATION, divine, its necessity for taking holy Orders, 185, 198. 
Vocation is also necessary for every state of life, 201. Marks of 
vocation to the priesthood, 189. What a priest should do who 
has entered Orders without a vocation, 206. 


WILL of God, we should conform to it in all things, 403, 441; it is 
manifested to us by Superiors and spiritual directors, 359. Self- 
will, one should be detached from it, 357. 

WINE, dangerous to chastity, 259, 431. 

WOMEN: one must avoid looking at them and conversing with them, 
250, 367, 435. 


ZEAL which the priest should have, 43, 154; end, means, and labors, 
177; how much this zeal pleases God, 166; his reward, 172. 

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BQ 7074 .14 A3 G7 v.12 SMC 

Liguori, A.M. 
Complete ascetical works